CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy President Chris Klein is busy dealing with an off-season that is expected to feature a number of changes, starting with Tuesday’s announcement that Vice President of Soccer Operations Pete Vagenas has been fired. But he may have one less concern regarding the five-time MLS Cup champions.
Make that one less big concern.
Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 6-foot-5 sensation who has been rumored to be considering a move back to Europe, said he is hopeful he will return for a second season with the Galaxy after an inaugural campaign in which he scored 22 goals – second in the league to the 31 scored by Atlanta’s Josef Martinez – and led the Galaxy to the cusp of a playoff berth before a season-ending, 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo eliminated them from postseason contention.
“I am in talks with the Galaxy,” Ibrahimovic told reporters Tuesday. “I’m optimistic and I’m positive.”
Ibrahimovic, who joined the Galaxy last March less than a year after suffering what some thought was a potential career-ending knee injury during Manchester United’s Europa League quarterfinal against Belgian side Anderlecht, acknowledged there has been interest for his services from overseas clubs, including former employer AC Milan.
“It’s no secret, there is interest from Europe,” he said. “Absolutely, but my priority is Galaxy. I am here and I’m happy to be here. Interest, there will always be interest.”
Ibrahimovic was asked how soon he hopes for a resolution.
“As soon as possible,” he replied. “Everything is a work in progress. Everybody’s working.
“Let’s see … depends on how big a loan we get from the bank,” he went on with a smile.
He also was asked if he had a feeling one way or the other how things will work out.
“This is only one way or the other way,” he said. “There is nothing in between.
“I don’t know how to answer,” he said with a laugh.
Galaxy President Chris Klein called conversations with Ibrahimovic “very good” and said Ibrahimovic has “certain things that he wants.”
The popular Swede, who officially is signed through next season and is coming off a year in which he had MLS’ top-selling jersey, said what he wants aren’t necessarily of the individual variety.
“For me to return,” he said, “I want to be able to challenge for the (MLS Cup) trophy. I’m here for the challenge. I want to feel I have a chance to be the best in MLS … my team, not me.
“Because I am the best,” he added with a grin. “But the club knows all my wishes, all my demands. It’s up to them what they want, but they are very positive. They have been very good to me.
“They have been very helpful; they help me and my family with whatever I need. I have a good relationship with everybody. Let’s say I’m not worried.
“Let’s see what happens,” he went on. “I’m positive, I’m happy, I’m here, I have another year. I’m not worried.”