Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s biggest stars. Love him or hate him, he has qualities that few other players possess and it looks like he will take those qualities to the MLS in the future.
The way Ibrahimovic combines his big size with incredible technical skills has made him a champion at every level he’s played at. He started out his career with Malmo FF in the Swedish league before going to Ajax in the Netherlands. From there, he went on to play for Juventus and Inter Milan in the Italian Serie A before going to FC Barcelona.
His time at Barcelona wasn’t great on a personal level, so he returned to Italy and AC Milan before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.
In recent interviews with Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report, the 33-year-old Swede had a lot of great things to say about the United States and MLS.
“Think it’s growing the right way, it’s getting bigger and bigger,” Ibrahimovic told Bleacher Report about the soccer culture in America. “You see more and more big name players. I think the players in Europe are curious about Major League Soccer.”
Ibrahimovic would be one of the most decorated players if he comes over to the MLS with 12 league titles, five cup titles and four goal-scoring titles. He’s won nine Swedish Player of the Year awards, and has a highlight reel few players can match.
When asked about if he sees himself playing in the MLS someday, Ibrahimovic showed off his goofier self and gave an answer in third person.
“You never know,” Ibrahimovic said. “I see Zlatan playing in the U.S., but when, I don’t know.”
In his interview with SI.com, Ibrahimovic spoke about his admiration for the big cities in the United States, and singled out Los Angeles, New York City and Miami as some of his favorite places. Any MLS team would be happy to have a player like Zlatan who can not only help win trophies, but also put people in seats and help promote the team and the league.
It’s not farfetched Ibrahimovic could be in the MLS as early as next year. A lot of it depends on how the season goes with PSG and if the Swedish national team qualifies for the 2016 European Championship in France. If PSG goes to and wins the Champions League, the chances would increase significantly.
If the Swedish national team qualifies for Euro 2016 and Zlatan has a good tournament, it would be a good note to end his international career on. Even though he keeps up his physical strength, he would be 36 years old by the time the 2018 World Cup in Russia rolls around, and with Sweden landing in the “Group of Death” in the qualifiers with juggernauts France and the Netherlands, chances are slim that Sweden will even be able to qualify.
Ibrahimovic’s former teammate and Manchester United legend David Beckham is on the verge of getting an MLS team in Miami, but it’s still uncertain when that team would enter the league. New York has the Red Bulls and NYCFC, while Los Angeles has the Galaxy. Either team would suit Ibrahimovic, but the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles might just have the upper hand if he’s looking to build his personal brand ever more.
He just launched a perfume line called “Zlatan” and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he wants to dabble in some acting in the future, making L.A. a potential destination.
If PSG don’t make a big splash in the Champions League, he might take another year or two in Europe before coming over. The league has seen more and more big name players coming over, with stars like Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and more taking the field. Sebastian Giovinco has had a phenomenal first season in Toronto, and the arrival of Ibrahimovic would take the league another step forward in its development.