Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he could easily still cut it in the Premier League – and the self-styled lion would be ready to roar for Manchester United again was it not for his determination to lead LA Galaxy to glory.
It is 17 months since the veteran Swede left Old Trafford for the city of stars and the confident, larger-than-life striker has proven a big hit in Major League Soccer.
Ibrahimovic’s brace in Sunday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with rivals LAFC took his tally to 46 goals in 49 appearances – not bad for a 37-year-old, never mind one that had to fight back from serious knee ligament damage.
That injury in April 2017 brought an abrupt halt to a superb first season at Old Trafford, where his 28-goal haul included efforts in United’s EFL Cup and Community Shield triumphs.
Ibrahimovic would only make a further seven appearances before heading Stateside and the well-travelled striker continues to keep a close eye on a club he knows he would shine for.
“I could play easy in the Premier League, so if United needs me, I’m here,” he said with a grin in Los Angeles. “But Galaxy has me, so I’m sorry.
“Nah, I did my job in Europe. I enjoyed it, I have 33 trophies that I brought with me here and hopefully I can get something here.
“And then we will see where that adventure finishes.”
United could certainly have done with Ibrahimovic’s cutting edge at the weekend as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell to a galling 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
“I look, I look, I look,” the striker told PA. “I saw the last game and I think they were unlucky.
“If they score the penalty, it’s a different game but a game in England is not finished until its finished.
“Anything can happen, especially in the last minutes where everything is in the heat of the moment.”
Having come a cropper in the dying embers of Saturday’s game, United will be hoping there is no late sting in the tail regarding Paul Pogba as the European transfer window comes to a close.
Subject of speculation and scrutiny over the summer after admitting that he would be open to a new a challenge, Ibrahimovic recently said the midfielder should be allowed to leave if he wants to go.
Asked if he keeps in contact with Pogba, he said: “I speak with him. A lot of advice I give – but nothing I share with you!”
One former team-mate definitely on the move is Wayne Rooney.
An impressive force in MLS for DC United, England and Manchester United’s all-time top scorer will join Derby as player-coach in January – and there is talk that his American exit could come even sooner.
“No, I’m not surprised (that he’s going back),” Ibrahimovic said. “Absolutely not.
“I think he came, he tried, he did his best and, yeah, he had patience. You need a lot of patience and it has finished, the patience.
Gutted about result last night. We deserved more. Looking forward to a 12 hour travel day which could be done in 6 but hey this is mls. We will get ready for red bulls Wednesday. #Charterflights#msl— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) August 18, 2019
“I mean, my deal is until December 31. What happens afterwards I don’t know.
“I’m in a different position than Wazza. Wazza is much younger than me. I am old but still dominating, still making the difference.
“Let’s see what happens. I have to be feeling good physically.”
Ibrahimovic is fully focused on taking the Galaxy into the play-offs and onto what he hopes will be the league crown in a fifth country.
“I think MLS is an exciting league,” the striker, who turns 38 in October, said. “It’s a growing league – a lot of things to come in place.
“New teams coming in. I mean, you have teams playing away for half the season and then they play at home because the stadium was not done. There’s a lot of things happening.
“I enjoy it but there is a lot of things to become better, to come up in level, which it will time by time. We’re in the US, where nothing is impossible.”
Ibrahimovic believes MLS requires a few changes to fulfil its undoubted potential, nodding towards things like air travel and budgets.
“I think it will take time (to become a major soccer force) but they have all the possibilities they can,” he added.
“But there is a lot of rules here with the budget. I mean, you saw Rooney, he tweeted something with the travelling. It’s not easy all those things.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.