The world of football stopped spinning for a few moments when it was announced that one of the most prolific strikers in modern football was coming to MLS. Zlatan Ibrahimović’s journey through Europe’s top leagues has entranced a generation of footballers, from his skill on the field to his antics off the pitch.
The announcement came in classic Zlatan fashion, which included a video of Zlatan walking next to a lion, and a full-page ad in the LA Times, mostly blank expect for the inscription: “Los Angeles, you’re welcome.”
Although Zlatan can seem like someone who does not lack self confidence to the average bystander, Montreal Impact defender Rod Fanni knows a different side of the Swedish striker, having faced him in Ligue 1 during his time with Olympique de Marseille.
“I’ve played against him many times, and I know people that have played on his team as well,” said centre back Rod Fanni. “I know he seems a little full of himself, but it’s more an act, because I know that he’s more like a big brother to his teammates than the person we see on TV.”
One of the best
If Zlatan’s job, over a long career, has been to instill doubt in another team’s defensive capabilities, you don’t have to remind Rémi Garde. The 36-year-old striker and the Impact’s head coach crossed paths many times when Garde was at the helm of Olympique Lyonnais’ first team in Ligue 1.
“He is an immense player,” said Garde. “What he did in France, which I saw from very close, is very impressive. He carried Paris Saint-Germain for a long time. If you watch the way Paris played when he was on and when he wasn’t, it’s night and day. I know he’ll bring a lot to the league.”
Despite the notoriety that comes with a name like that, his effectiveness in MLS has yet to be tested. At 36 years old and coming back from a serious knee injury that required surgery, Ibrahimović has no certainty about his level of performance, but no one would bet against him.
“It’s a pretty amazing signing for the league,” added Lovitz. “I think it’s a little more reflective of the MLS of a few years ago, bringing in players that aren’t necessarily in their prime, but that can definitely sell jerseys and tickets.”
The Impact faithful will get a chance to see the LA Galaxy’s new number 9 up close, when the California team visits Stade Saputo on May 21 for the Impact’s 25th anniversary game.