Zlatan Ibrahimovic said the LA Galaxy “will win” a title in his second year with the club.
Speaking to ESPN FC during the annual MLS media days in Los Angeles, the Swedish striker said he had opportunities to go elsewhere following a campaign when he scored 22 goals and added 10 assists, but felt he had unfinished business with the Galaxy, especially given that LA missed the playoffs for the second year running.
“I think as a football player, you want to feel alive, as long as you’re active,” Ibrahimovic said. “After one season with the Galaxy, I came back after one-and-a-half years without playing football from my bad injury, I was feeling alive again. You want to give yourself challenges, you want to feel that there is a challenge out there that you want to take and you want to succeed. I felt that I’m not finished here because wherever I went, I won, and I didn’t win here. So I give it another year and I will win here this second year.”
He added that he not only wants to be a part of the Galaxy’s success, but also that of the entire league.
“I’m happy here not only on the field but outside,” he said. “I want to be part of the progress in MLS, I want to help, and to develop the football because I think it’s the biggest sport in the world and it should be the biggest one in the U.S.”
Ibrahimovic’s injury layoff — a knee injury that he suffered while playing for Manchester United which saw him sidelined for eight months — raised plenty of doubts about how effective he would be in MLS. But his debut against LAFC, one that saw him score two spectacular goals in a 4-3 win, including one from 40 yards, set the stage for an outstanding season. It also erased doubts, including his own.
“I needed to go through that moment to feel that I’m still able to do it,” he said. “And it was very important to me because once you go through a moment like that, you feel I am still [able] to give.”
The season also witnessed Ibrahimovic scoring his 500th career goal in what proved to be a 5-3 defeat to Toronto FC.
“It was a crazy moment and an unlucky moment because we were losing 3-0, and I score a goal like that, and you just want to celebrate to show that you score a crazy goal, or something like that, but you couldn’t because you need to chase a goal to get the right result,” he said. “But if I look now at it, it was an amazing goal, one that people will remember.”
The goal was scored when Ibrahimovic delivered a roundhouse kick akin to that of someone engaging in martial arts.
“I did taekwondo when I was younger,” he said. “I just do it with the ball and not opponents,” he said. “There is a limit.”
But beyond his individual accomplishments, Ibrahimovic is determined to see the Galaxy, which has a new coach in Guillermo Barros Schelotto and general manager in Dennis te Kloese, share in his success.
“Wherever I go I want to win, and I will win and I have won,” he said. “That is what I want and that is what I bring to the package I give to the club I come to. But there’s a mentality I have, and I don’t want to fail nobody, I want to succeed, I want my teammates to succeed and one day to say we played together and we won. That is one thing I can say about every teams I played with and all the players that I played with. I had that luck. That is no difference from this place, the only thing different is we will do it in the second year.”