Zlatan Ibrahimovic: If I don't stay, nobody will remember MLS

By Sports Desk October 25, 2019

Zlatan Ibrahimovic potentially aimed a parting shot at MLS as he discussed his LA Galaxy future following their playoff defeat to rivals Los Angeles FC.

The 38-year-old, who scored 30 goals in the 2019 regular season to lead Galaxy back to the postseason, was on target on Thursday but could not save his side from a 5-3 derby defeat.

It was Galaxy's first El Trafico reverse as LAFC, the Supporters' Shield winners, took a huge stride towards a first MLS Cup triumph.

Ibrahimovic is out of contract in Los Angeles in December and has not been shy in talking up a possible return to Europe, with former club Manchester United linked along with a host of Serie A sides.

The former Sweden star insisted a further contract with Galaxy does not depend on financial terms, despite having become a Designated Player heading into this season.

However, in typically bold fashion, he suggested MLS would be quickly forgotten if he was no longer playing in the league.

"It's not about money," he said, as reported by ESPN. "I have another two months [on my contract]. We'll see what happens.

"[If I stay], then MLS is good, because the whole world will watch it. If I don't stay, nobody will remember what MLS is."

Ibrahimovic has scored 53 goals in 58 MLS games for Galaxy, including the playoffs, since signing from United early last season.

Related items

  • Guti calls for Madrid to sign Neymar and Mbappe as he pokes fun at Barca's Griezmann Guti calls for Madrid to sign Neymar and Mbappe as he pokes fun at Barca's Griezmann

    Real Madrid great Guti said he would sign Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for Los Blancos, while mocking Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann.

    LaLiga champions Madrid have been heavily linked with a blockbuster move for PSG star Mbappe, who is out of contract in Paris at the end of the 2021-22 season.

    Neymar, who swapped Barcelona for PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017, has previously been linked with Madrid.

    As Madrid prepare for Saturday's Clasico against bitter rivals Barca at Camp Nou, Guti talked up Neymar and Mbappe while poking fun at Griezmann, who has struggled to establish himself since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2019.

    "I'd sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for Real Madrid and for Barcelona I wouldn't sign anyone, just for Griezmann to stay," Guti, 43, said as he laughed while discussing the Clasico.

    "There are many great players in this game, but I'm going for the youngsters.

    "Surely it'll be Ansu Fati at Barcelona and Vinicius [Junior] at Real Madrid [who can make an impact]. They're very talented players who are going to bring a lot to LaLiga."

    Both Madrid and Barca will enter the Clasico on the back of LaLiga defeats, while the former were also stunned by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

    Madrid suffered a shock 1-0 loss to newly promoted Cadiz at the weekend and Lionel Messi's Barca succumbed to Getafe by the same scoreline.

    Zinedine Zidane's Madrid are a point adrift of Real Sociedad with a game in hand, while Barca are ninth and four points off the pace, having played a game less.

    "It won't determine who'll win LaLiga, but it is an important match," said Guti, who won five LaLiga titles and three Champions League trophies during his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. "Mentally, if a player does well or a team wins, then it can do you good for what is still to come in LaLiga.

    "It's a test for both of these teams to see what level they're at and to see what they can achieve this year."

  • Messi preventing Griezmann from expressing himself at Barca – Wenger Messi preventing Griezmann from expressing himself at Barca – Wenger

    Lionel Messi is preventing Antoine Griezmann from expressing himself at Barcelona as the Frenchman continues to be overshadowed by the superstar captain, according to Arsene Wenger.

    Griezmann arrived from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid in a blockbuster €120million transfer last year but he has struggled to establish himself alongside Messi at Camp Nou.

    An unused substitute in Barca's 5-1 Champions League rout of Ferencvaros on Tuesday, Griezmann has failed to score in four LaLiga appearances this season – only managing one shot on target without creating a single chance.

    While Messi has just one league goal, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has registered seven shots on target and created six chances for his team-mates.

    Former Arsenal manager Wenger believes France international Griezmann is being hindered by Messi's presence in his preferred central attacking position.

    "Not playing at his position is complicated in the long term," Wenger told beIN SPORTS.  

    "At the start, the guy accepts it but, if he does not meet his needs in the long term and he feels that the position does not allow him to express his qualities, he will become discouraged.

    "Today, he is a player who must play in the centre because he has a great work rate, a precision in his passes. 

    "He can be dangerous with the last pass and by scoring goals, but there is congestion because he is in the range of play of Messi."

    In his first season with Barca last time out, Griezmann scored nine goals, supplied four assists and created 33 chances in 35 LaLiga appearances.

    Griezmann finished 2019-20 with 15 goals in all competitions – a tumultuous campaign which saw Barca dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    The 29-year-old scored 133 goals in 257 games for Atletico between 2014 and 2019.

  • Ibrahimovic 'fine' to face Celtic but Pioli unsure about extent of Calhanoglu injury Ibrahimovic 'fine' to face Celtic but Pioli unsure about extent of Calhanoglu injury

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic can cope with Milan's quick turnaround in matches but Rossoneri head coach Stefano Pioli is unsure how long his side will be without fellow key player Hakan Calhanoglu.

    Veteran striker Ibrahimovic scored twice in Saturday's 2-1 win over bitter rivals Inter and is part of Milan's 22-man squad for Thursday's Europa League Group H opener with Celtic in Glasgow.

    Pioli has resisted the urge to rest his big hitters and insists they can cope with the demands of a packed fixture list, with four more matches to come in the space of 10 days.

    "Zlatan is fine and so are his team-mates," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "I think the team is fine, because it's more the head that commands the legs. 

    "The derby has taken away a lot of mental energy more than physical, as always happens in this period.

    "We will have a block of three weeks where we will play seven times and they will be close and very competitive matches, but I will certainly field the best side on Thursday."

    Calhanoglu will play no part at Celtic Park, however, after spraining his ankle in the narrow win over Inter last weekend as Milan stretched their winning run to nine matches.

    He has thrived post-lockdown, scoring and assisting a combined 15 goals in Serie A since June - a tally matched by Ibrahimovic and bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo (16) and Francesco Caputo (17).

    Asked for an update on Calhanoglu's fitness, Pioli said: "Unfortunately, we don't know if it is a minor one or a more serious thing.

    "It is a situation that we will have to analyse together with the physios day after day."

    Milan made tough work of overcoming Rio Ave in their qualifying play-off tie, requiring a last-gasp goal from Calhanoglu to salvage an epic penalty shoot-out that they edged 9-8.

    The seven-time European champions have won just one of their last four matches in the Europa League proper, conceding two or more goals in three of those fixtures.

    However, they enter the competition as the favourites of many to go all the way and Pioli acknowledges his side have to cope with the pressure that comes with that tag.

    "We worked hard to get back into Europe and now we want to stay there," he told Milan TV.

    "The Europa League is an important competition, we have a very balanced and competitive group, so we are eager to start strong.

    "It's natural that there are high expectations around us, and that’s only right, as we are wearing a prestigious jersey of a club that is accustomed to winning.

    "It's a privilege for us to have this kind of pressure, as it means we are doing well and there are many more tests we must pass. 

    "Milan always play to win, knowing that it’ll be difficult every single time. 

    "We have the quality to take home the points and the more we sacrifice ourselves for the team, the more likely we’ll get a result."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.