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Zlat's a wrap as Ibra ends LA story

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-15 09:28
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has called time on his memorable two-season stint with the LA Galaxy. The 38-year-old lit up Major League Soccer with 56 goals in 52 games, as well as entertaining fans with his own inimitable swagger, both on and off the pitch. [Photo/USA TODAY SPORTS]

Superstar Swede departs Galaxy after having 'immeasurable impact' on MLS

CARSON, California - You're welcome and goodbye, Los Angeles.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy are officially parting ways after two eventful seasons, the 38-year-old Swedish superstar and the club announced on Wednesday.

"I came, I saw, I conquered," Ibrahimovic wrote on Twitter.

"Thank you @LAGalaxy for making me feel alive again. To the Galaxy fans - you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues...Now go back to watch baseball."

Ibrahimovic scored 56 goals in 52 MLS games after joining the Galaxy in March 2018, injecting his inimitable blend of talent and swagger into a stagnating club. This season, he scored a franchise-record 30 goals - more than the rest of the Galaxy roster combined (28).

A week before Ibrahimovic debuted with a dramatic two-goal performance as a substitute in a win over crosstown rival Los Angeles FC, he announced his arrival in Hollywood by taking out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, which simply read: "Dear Los Angeles, You're welcome."

"Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles," Galaxy president Chris Klein said in a statement.

"We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole."

Ibrahimovic 's MLS jaunt was a mixed success, at least by his lofty standards. He was an elite, steady scorer for the five-time league champions and was likely the league's top box-office draw on the road, keeping the market engaged with his bold pronouncements and rivalries with opponents and clubs, particularly Los Angeles FC in the city's 'El Trafico' derby games.

But the Galaxy won just one playoff match during Ibrahimovic 's time at the club, and they finished eighth in the league this season after missing the playoffs in his debut campaign. He lost this year's MLS MVP award to LAFC's Carlos Vela, who scored a league-record 34 goals.

Although Ibrahimovic was their most important player for the past two seasons, the Galaxy didn't expect him to end his career with them, and he does not appear to be close to retirement.

Rumors of his departure have been heard for months, and Ibrahimovic has never stayed at any club for more than four seasons in his peripatetic career.

Ibrahimovic has been linked recently to a return to AC Milan, where he played two seasons and scored 42 Serie A goals from 2010-12. Milan is currently mired in 14th in the Seria A standings.

Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only active players in the world to score 500 career goals between their club teams and international play. Ibrahimovic scored his 500th last term.

A few weeks ago, Ibrahimovic claimed that "if I don't stay, nobody will remember what MLS is."

But the Galaxy already have a direction for their future, acquiring young star Cristian Pavon from Argentina to join Guillermo Barros Schelotto, his former coach at Boca Juniors.

The free-spending club also should have money available from Ibrahimovic 's departure to bolster its front line.

Associated Press

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