The news that Manchester United released Zlatan Ibrahimovic from his short-term contract on Thursday was rather surprising. The fact that the striker was leaving was maybe not the surprise, but the timing of his departure is surprising.
The striker had a contract until the end of the campaign, so it was expected that he would move on during the summer. However, he was allowed to terminate his contract in Manchester, with reports suggesting he is set to move to MLS.
Was just a bit-part player at United
Zlatan was always going to find first-team football hard to come by at United this season. One factor was the serious cruciate injury he sustained and the other was marquee summer signing Romelu Lukaku.
United boss Jose Mourinho put a lot of faith in Lukaku and spent big to bring the striker in from Everton. With that in mind, the Belgian international will more than likely start every game for the Red Devils.
Obviously, Lukaku was brought in to replace Ibrahimovic, whose one-year deal expired in the summer. The deal was not renewed due to his injury and the fact that the Red Devils were looking to the future with the signing of Lukaku.
Ibrahimovic worked hard to get back to full fitness. In late August, the striker signed a new deal with United. His chances in the United first-team have been limited since, though. He has featured on just seven occasions in all competitions, starting once in the English top-flight.
Just as Zlatan doesn’t do trials, Zlatan also doesn’t do bit-part, so the fact he is seeking out first-team football elsewhere is unsurprising.
Not needed at United
In terms of Ibrahimovic being in the United squad, his presence has added very little to the Red Devils campaign. His limited first-team opportunities have no doubt limited his impact on the team.
However, looking at the United squad, he is not needed. As previously mentioned Lukaku will play virtually every game for Jose Mourinho’s men, while the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial can also play up front if needed.
Ibrahimovic was supposedly a Plan B for Mourinho for this season. He was an alternative to Lukaku or a stand-in if you will. However, his lack of football since his return to the club indicates that the Portuguese boss no longer felt the striker had much to offer his team.
Ibrahimovic brought a winning mentality to United, something that the team needed last season. However, it was not enough for the striker to justify his place in the United starting line-up.
The Red Devils have done okay without him. They currently sit second place in the Premier League and are odds of 1/66 to clinch a Champions League spot this season.
Coming to America
According to the BBC, Ibrahimovic’s next stop in his world-conquering tour is the US and LA Galaxy. The 36-year-old recently talked about how he liked the lifestyle in the home of the Hollywood.
A move to LA would really suit the Swedish striker, as he is truly box office. He is the sort of character that will fit in well in the US. His flair for self-promotion and theatrics will fit in well in LA.
A number of former English top-flight stars have headed for the Galaxy at the end of their careers, including David Beckham and Steven Gerrard. Former England left-back Ashley Cole is still on the roster with the Galaxy.
The arrival of Ibrahimovic will also raise the profile the MLS once more. Ibrahimovic demands attention and his presence in the US top-flight will only add more spectators to the already growing fan base in the US.
Overall, the move makes sense for everybody. United get a higher earner off their books, Ibrahimovic gets a new adoring public and LA Galaxy gets a highly professional winner, still with something to give. Everybody wins.
Is moving to MLS the right move for Zlatan?
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