Editorial (February 4, 2018) – I’ll admit, I’m mildly annoyed I’m writing about this again. It seems like the ‘Zlatan is rumored to be in talks with the LA Galaxy‘ is now an annual ritual MLS Twitter has to engage in, like Groundhog Day.
Some Thoughts on the LA Galaxy Zlatan Rumor Again
Earlier this week, multiple reports came out by ESPN that forward Zlatan Ibrahimović was in talks to sign with LA Galaxy and that this time the rumors were actually legit. The report is also that the contract would involve Targeted Allocation Money, thus Zlatan would not be a Designated Player in 2018.
How the Galaxy can make a TAM deal work:
There are a lot of factors at play here. The Galaxy could be offering Zlatan a back-loaded deal where he is on TAM money in 2018 but is then a multi-million dollar DP as of 2019. It could also be an incentive-laden deal given that Zlatan is coming off another big injury. There’s also a possibility that Don Garber and the league are looking to make a rule change to to make this deal possible.
The Galaxy could sign him on a TAM contract and figure out how to make it work in 2019 later.
All that said, I still find it hard to believe that Zlatan is willing to come to America, to a lesser league in MLS, and be the fourth (or possibly lower) highest paid player on the team. There has to be something else at work here, some non-soccer sponsorship, a movie deal, or something that is subsidizing Zlatan’s income to make him agree to this.
Would this deal make sense?
Honestly, I don’t know. He hasn’t been healthy and fit in about a year. If any player can get through his rehab and comeback at the same level, it’s Zlatan Ibrahimović. That said, there’s a very real possibility he comes back a shell of himself for good. The Galaxy and the league are moving past signing aging European stars to big contracts. In MLS 3.0, a 36-year-old Zlatan just doesn’t play as well as it would have four years ago.
For a TAM level contract and all the tickets and jerseys Zlatan will sell (especially given LAFC coming to town), it would make sense. The on-field production is still a big uncertainty for me.
The Ego Factor:
There’s also the question of Zlatan’s ego walking into a locker room that’s finding a healthy early pre-season chemistry. Now the organization is in a much better situation than they were last year to have him come in. Unlike Curt Onalfo, Sigi Schmid is much more likely to earn and demand his respect. The locker room make up in general is much healthier.
That said, this guy did once joke that he’d return to Paris Saint Germain if the club could replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of him. He could come in and be the force needed to take this team from playoff contender to MLS Cup contender, with his skill and bravado. He could also completely blow up a good thing. Especially if he ends up not starting due to not being 90 minutes fit with his injury.
The Galaxy and the MLS community has been down this road before and had it come to nothing. I’m at the point where I’ll believe it when I see it. These rumors might have more leg to stand on than last year, but I still don’t see Zlatan and his ego accepting a TAM-level contract, nor being a bench player in 2018. Some other reports also suggest that fans and pundits should be slowing their roll.