Zlatan Ibrahimovic has insisted he left Manchester United for LA Galaxy for purely footballing reasons following a difficult few months at Old Trafford.
The Swede recovered from knee ligament damage in November but only managed two starts before dropping back to the injury table, with his last appearance coming on Boxing Day.
He signed a two-year deal with LA Galaxy on Friday and announced his arrival by taking up an entire page in the LA times with the message: “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome”.
And Ibrahimovic, speaking soon after being unveiled by the MLS side, noted that he came to California to experience football in the United States.
“I am ready to go now,” he said. “First of all, I’m there to play football. I’m not there for something else. My first objective is to play football and do what I’m good at.”
“I’m excited to come over and to get the experience with the Galaxy and to explore how the football is there. I want to be part of it and make it better.”
“After being in Europe, winning 33 trophies, playing in the best teams in the world, playing with the best players in the world, I wanted to come to the US and play my game there.
“I wanted people to enjoy my game there and to win. And I chose the Galaxy to do that.”
The last few months of Zlatan’s Old Trafford career were decidedly ambiguous. Mourinho noted on December 28 that the striker, who left United with 29 goals to his name, had suffered another problem with the knee operated on back in April and claimed he would be out for a month.
A month passed and nothing was reported. Another month passed and Mourinho confirmed he was back in training. A couple of weeks later, the boss noted that Zlatan wasn’t injured but felt unsatisfied with how his body felt and where his game was on the training ground.
A month later, he’s gone – supposedly because of United’s exit from the Champions League. The reality, I think, is that the 36-year-old realised his own limitations. 18 years of professional football, a severe ligament injury and around ten months on the sidelines convinced him that he was unable to combat the ferociousness of Premier League football like he did last season.