MLS, welcome to Zlatan: Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy on two-year deal but will not be a DP

It’s official. It’s a deal that has been rumoured for a number of years and it’s now come to fruition as Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy for what will surely be the final years of his incredible career.

The 36-year-old Swedish striker terminated his contract with Manchester United on Thursday. That meant he could join LA Galaxy on a free transfer. But in addition to that coup, the Galaxy have been able to convince him to come to MLS without being a Designated Player.

Ibrahimovic’s contract will run through the 2019 season and he will earn $1.5 million per year, according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. That amount is the maximum allowed for a contract using Targeted Allocation Money. So it means Giovani Dos Santos, Jonathan Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini will remain DP’s with the Galaxy.

“Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome”

Ibrahimovic is one of football’s biggest characters. He is a global superstar as a result of both his incredible goalscoring exploits and his enormous ego that has made headlines wherever he has played.

He hasn’t even landed in Los Angeles but has already started his famous antics. An entire page of the LA Times was dedicated to Ibrahimovic’s signing on Friday, with a very short message from the man himself. It simply read: “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome.”

Ibrahimovic is expected to arrive in LA next week, on either Wednesday and Thursday. He has only played seven times since making an incredibly fast recovery from cruciate knee-ligament damage. He suffered the injury in the Europa League last April.

However, if he feels ready to play from the outset, he could make his debut in the hugely anticipated Los Angeles Derby between LA Galaxy and LAFC on Saturday, March 31 – the first ever meeting between the new rivals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins LA Galaxy following a trophy-filled career. The powerful forward scored 421 goals in 21 seasons across Europe. With those goals coming for the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United.

He is the only player to have won 13 titles in four different leagues. He is Sweden’s all-time top goalscorer. And he is the only player to have scored in the following derbies: De Klassieker, the Derby della Madonnina, the Derby d’Italia, El Clásico, Le Classique, the Manchester Derby and the North-West Derby. Don’t bet against him making an immediate impact with a goal in the first LA Derby next weekend.

MLS, welcome to Zlatan.

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Man Utd vs West Ham

Premier League: Manchester United vs West Ham

Old Trafford – Sunday, August 13 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Man Utd 30/100 – Draw 17/4 – West Ham 9/1

Man Utd vs West Ham: Preview

Manchester United open their Premier League season against West Ham on Sunday afternoon. The two sides have made some strong signings this summer and will be raring to go in the opening weekend’s final fixture.

Man Utd have spent big on bringing in Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic. Jose Mourinho knew he had to strengthen the squad after last year’s fifth-placed finish. The Red Devils did qualify for the Champions League as a result of their Europa League win.

But the aim will be the mount a serious title challenge this season. Mourinho has assembled a strong squad and knows his side need to get off to a winning start here.

United fell 2-1 to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday night. They put in a strong display, despite losing, and will be looking to hit the ground running against the Hammers on Sunday.

West Ham’s main summer signing will be a familiar face to the Old Trafford crowd. Former United striker Javier Hernandez has joined the Hammers for around £16m, in what is surely going to be one of the best deals of the window.

Slaven Bilic has also brought in Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart, Marko Arnautovic and Sead Haksabanovic. West Ham will surely improve on last season’s 11th-placed finish.

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The Hammers couldn’t have been handed a much tougher opening game. West Ham will have to wait a month until their first home game of the campaign, with away trips to Southampton and Newcastle to come following Sunday’s game at Old Trafford. That’s due to the ongoing athletics World Championships currently taking place at the London Stadium.

These two sides met three times last season. The pair drew 1-1 in the Premier League at Old Trafford, before United won 4-1 in the League Cup three days later. The Red Devils then beat the Hammers 2-0 at London Stadium in January.

Man Utd vs West Ham: Team News

Manchester United have no new injury concerns heading into the new season. Jose Mourinho is expected to give debuts to Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku. Though Victor Lindelof might have to start on the bench, with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones available again after being suspended for Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup game. Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young are injured.

West Ham could welcome back Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini after recent injuries. But Slaven Bilic will be without Sofiane Feghouli, Cheikhou Kouyate, Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez are expected to make their league debuts for the visitors.

Man Utd vs West Ham: Key Points

Man Utd’s preseason form: W/L/W/W/L

West Ham’s preseason form: W/L/D/D/L

Key Stat: Manchester United are unbeaten in their last nine home Premier League games against West Ham. Their last league defeat to the Hammers at Old Trafford came on the final day of the 2006/07 season.

Key Player: Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United’s big summer signing loves playing against West Ham. The powerful striker has scored in nine of his last ten games against the Hammers in all competitions.

Man Utd vs West Ham: Prediction

Manchester United 2-1 West Ham – United struggled for goals against teams like West Ham throughout last season. However, the signing of Lukaku is meant to fix those problems. Things are unlikely to be perfect for either side in the opener, but the hosts look primed to get off to a winning start. West Ham are a stronger side than they were last term. But the hosts have spent big. Expectations are high and they need to prove they can kick on, starting on Sunday.

Real Salt Lake vs Man Utd: Preseason Scout Report

Real Salt Lake vs Man Utd: Match outlook

Real Salt Lake welcome Manchester United to Rio Tinto Stadium on Monday night for the Red Devils’ second game of their US tour. The game kicks off at 8pm local time, which will be 3am in the UK.

It will be the Premier League giants’ first ever game in Utah. And comes off the back of Saturday’s convincing 5-2 win over LA Galaxy at StubHub Center.

Big-money signings Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof made their unofficial debuts for Man Utd at the weekend. Lukaku didn’t get on the scoresheet but the £75m signing will no doubt be planning to find the net against RSL.

Mourinho has said he will once again field two different sides in each half of Monday night’s game. United still have five games to play after their clash with RSL, including friendlies against Man City and Real Madrid before the end of the week.

Real Salt Lake have had a tough MLS campaign so far this season. They are currently at the halfway stage but their hopes of making the playoffs look slim.

But Monday’s friendly gives the team the chance to put aside their league form and enjoy playing against some of the world’s top players.

MLS veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando can’t wait to be tested by the likes of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

“I think the city deserves a team like Manchester United come here. The fans deserve it,” he said.

“For me to be able to play against such great players is exciting for sure. They have huge players and to step onto the field with them is going to be great.”

Real Salt Lake vs Man Utd: RSL scout report

Real Salt Lake’s league form has been poor in 2017. They’ve taken 20 points from 20 games and sit ninth in the Western Conference. They are only two points off the bottom and four points adrift of the playoff places at the midway point.

They have the joint-worst goal difference in MLS this season and have lost as many home games as they have won this term. That will give Manchester United hope of bettering their result from the LA Galaxy game on Saturday.

Interestingly though, RSL did run out 6-2 winners at LA Galaxy in their latest outing before the MLS Gold Cup break set in two weeks ago. So they have proven they can be a really dangerous attacking outfit. The problem is they can’t seem to keep goals out.

Head coach Mike Petke will undoubtedly be looking ahead to Wednesday night’s MLS battle with the Portland Timbers. He will likely give plenty of fringe players a chance to impress against United on Monday night, and is unlikely to play anyone for more than 45 minutes.

Real Salt Lake vs Man Utd: Man Utd scout report

Manchester United got their US tour off to the perfect start with that 5-2 win at the Galaxy on Saturday. Mourinho rotated his squad and experimented with three at the back.

He has admitted the team will return to a tradition four-man defence at Rio Tinto Stadium, but 22 players are likely to feature as he continues to test things ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season, which is now just 25 days away.

Lukaku will be looking to score his first United goal following his £75m move to the Red Devils last week. He could be handed a start here, and will look to do better than he did in LA on Saturday.

Man Utd are expected to cruise to victory, given the quality they have throughout the squad. But RSL will offer an attacking threat, which United will look to contain after conceding two late goals against the Galaxy.

Three reasons Man Utd need to pull out the stops to beat PL rivals to £26m-rated left-back

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is on the hunt for a new left-back and he needs to do everything he can to ensure the Red Devils beat Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea to the signing of AS Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy this summer.

The 22-year-old Frenchman has starred for Monaco as they chase a first Ligue 1 title in 17 years this season. He joined the club in a £13 million deal from Marseille last summer but is expected to be on the move again this summer, with an offer of around £26 million expected to be enough to force Monaco’s hand.

Mourinho’s critical comments about Luke Shaw in recent weeks suggest he may not see a long-term future at Old Trafford for the youngster. Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian are also options at the position but none of them are natural left-backs and struggle to get up and down as much as Antonio Valencia on the opposite wing.

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Mendy would give Manchester United a fresh look and another attacking outlet down the left side. He has proven his quality in Ligue 1 and in the Champions League this season so here are three reasons United need to do all they can to sign him in the coming months…

1. Attacking threat from left-back

Mendy would offer United something they don’t currently have – a consistent attacking outlet down the left side. Luke Shaw is an attacking full-back but is clearly not one of Mourinho’s favourites, while Matteo Darmian struggles to offer regular support in the attacking third.

Mendy has eight league and Champions League assists this season – more than any other defender in Europe, including Real Madrid’s Marcelo and Bayern’s David Alaba who are both rated as two of the world’s best in the position.

Antonio Valencia gives United a regular threat from right-back but they become quite one-sided due to the lack of similar support on the left, so the addition of Mendy would add balance as well as some much-needed creativity from deep.

2016/17 League Stats
Games
Assists
Chances
Created Per 90 Mins
Pass
Completion (%)
Tackles
Won Per 90 Mins
Benjamin
Mendy
21
5
1.05
76%
1.9
Luke
Shaw
10
1
1.32
85%
0.92
Matteo
Darmian
12
0
0.21
81%
2.00

Table: Benjamin Mendy’s league statistics compared to Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian this season (stats via: Squawka).

2. Play style perfectly suits the Premier League

The table above shows how Mendy compares to Shaw and Darmian – the two most natural left-backs United have at their disposal at the moment. His stats suggest he is a well-rounded full-back, who is as adept at winning the ball back as he is creating chances. His pass completion could be better but 66% of his passes go forward, further highlighting his direct approach.

Premier League full-backs that can get forward quickly but also defend well in 1v1 situations tend to standout and Mendy fits that billing perfectly. A move to Old Trafford could see him establish himself as one of the club’s best left-sided defenders, as his approach to the game isn’t too dissimilar to that of Patrice Evra’s when he joined the Red Devils in 2006.

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3. Bright future ahead

Mendy is still only 22. That’s easy to forget considering he made his professional debut almost six years ago. But he has established himself as one of Europe’s best full-backs this season as Monaco continue to impress domestically and in the Champions League.

Mendy made his France debut last month, getting an assist in the 3-1 win over Luxembourg and a long and successful career is expected for club and country, no matter where he is plying his trade.

Luke Shaw is a year younger than Mendy but with his future unclear, the Frenchman would be an ideal replacement this summer and would potentially give Manchester United a reliable and improving left-back for many years to come.

Should Man United do everything in their power to sign Benjamin Mendy this summer?

Three reasons Man Utd suffered most in the PL this weekend

Saturday saw Manchester United held to their third 0-0 draw at home in the Premier League this season, as West Brom became the eighth team to leave Old Trafford with a point to further damage the Red Devils’ top four hopes.

Jose Mourinho’s side have only managed to win 40% of their home games in the top flight this season and wins for Spurs and Liverpool on Saturday mean that the challenge of securing a top four spot just got a whole lot tougher.

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Yes, Chelsea lost at home to Crystal Palace. That was a shock result and one that many will say was worse – on paper at least – than United’s home draw with the Baggies. But the difference is that the Blues had a 10-point cushion at the top of the table. They can afford to drop a few points and still lift the title. United can’t if they want to beat rivals to a Champions League spot.

Here are three reasons Manchester United were this weekend’s biggest losers:

1. Widening gap to top four

The biggest problem for United this weekend is that the gap to the top four widened by a point, following Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby win over Everton earlier in the day. Mourinho’s side were four points off Liverpool with two games in hand heading into the weekend, but not sit 5 points off Manchester City in 4th, who have only played one game more than United.

2. Easiest fixture of the month?

Man Utd will have played a staggering nine times before the end of April, with an average of a game every three days in the Premier League and Europa League leaving Mourinho with the most frantic period of his season. He will have to rotate his squad more than ever over the next four weeks but he’d had the entire international break to plan a victory over West Brom. He couldn’t do that and will now only have a couple of days to spend on preparations for each upcoming game in April.

3. Short rest time

As mentioned above, United’s hectic schedule means Mourinho will need to manage his players extremely well if they’re to emerge out of this month in good shape. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be available again for Tuesday’s home clash with Everton after serving his suspension but the 0-0 draw to the Baggies on Saturday meant the United boss had to leave his best players on the pitch for 90 minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the only played substituted but still had to get through 75 minutes first. The fact that Mourinho was unable to bring players off to save them for Tuesday might cost them when Everton come to town tomorrow evening.

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Should Mourinho be looking to replace Martial with this £40m Premier League champion?

Jose Mourinho will no doubt ring the changes at Manchester United this summer. His first season in charge has been steadily improving but he needs to bring more quality to the squad in order to compete for the title in 2017/18.

One man who has struggled more than most under the Portuguese manager is Anthony Martial. He’s struggled to make much of an impact throughout the current campaign and while he is still young, he has offered little to show Mourinho that he is the best winger for United next season. Fans and pundits alike know Mourinho is ruthless and if he sees the potential to cash in on an underperforming player, he’ll do it.

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Jesse Lingard has been included in the matchday squad more times than the Frenchman – 38 times to 36 – and considering the money spent to bring him to the club, that is a worrying statistic for Martial.

A potential replacement for the former Monaco man could be Chelsea’s Willian. The Brazilian has seen his game time limited this season at Stamford Bridge and has found himself second choice to the in-form Pedro. Mourinho is a huge fan of Willian and would no doubt love to sign him for United.

The 28 year old won the Premier League with Mourinho at Chelsea and would be an ideal fit for United. He is a set-piece specialist and would offer the Red Devils more than their current options for free-kick and corner duties.

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Willian’s is currently valued at just below £30 million by transfermarkt and United would have to pay a little over the odds for him from a rival club. An offer of £40m should be enough to secure his services if Mourinho can persuade him to leave and Chelsea to sell in the coming months.

Would Willian be an ideal fit for United? Is he a better option than Martial?

Have Manchester United gone backwards under Mourinho?

Manchester United’s season has been filled with ups and downs so far. Jose Mourinho’s side are trailing the top four by six points but do have two games in hand. As we know, they have already won the League Cup and remain on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League but their exit from the FA Cup to Chelsea crushed their hopes of a cup treble. Many United fans remain happy with the appointment of Mourinho but have they gone backwards since he took over last summer?

By comparing how they performed last season under Louis Van Gaal it is clear to see there have been a huge number of changes at United and with plenty of games still to come, their 2016/17 campaign still has a lot to unveil.

Premier League

Last season United missed out on the top four on goal difference. Although they qualified for Europe it wasn’t for the competition they were hoping for. They are 17 points off their total tally of 66 reached in the 2015/16 campaign but they do have 12 games left in the league, a possible 36 points to play for. If United were to win every game to the end of the season they could even be within a chance of winning the league, but the reality is their form has been too inconsistent, hence why they’ve been outside the top four for so long.

The Premier League has been fiercely competitive again this season and the race for a Champions League finish is being hotly contested by six teams. United have spent nearly £160 million since Mourinho took the job and he needs to improve on last year’s 5th-placed finish but at this stage of the season that is up in the air.

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FA Cup

The Red Devils won the FA Cup last season. Although cup competitions are luck of the draw, United will be disappointed not to have reached the semi-finals and another trip to Wembley. While it is very difficult to consistently win domestic cups, by not reaching the next round Man Utd have failed to equal their performance levels of last year’s FA Cup run.

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Europe

United are on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Realistically this may be their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season and Mourinho will be aware he has two chances to get the club back in the mix with Europe’s elite. If United are to win this competition, that and the League Cup would be an obvious sign of progression at the club.

They can better last season’s performance in Europe, where they failed to make it out of their UCL group and were knocked out in the round of 16 in the Europa League.

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League Cup

Mourinho’s record in the competition speaks for itself. While it may be United’s only competitive silverware this season, it’s still a trophy worth winning. By comparison, there is a good chance that this trophy alone will see United end the season with more silverware than a number of their rivals and they improved on their League Cup performance from last season where they exited the competition in the fourth round.

There is still a huge amount of work for Mourinho to do at United to get the club back to the highest level and if he were to win the Europa League as well as a domestic cup that is undoubtedly a successful season. However, United will be at a standstill if they are to miss out on qualification for the Champions League again, with a single EFL Cup win a poor return for a team boasting that much quality under Mourinho’s leadership.

Is Mourinho making progress at Manchester United or are they going backwards?

LA Galaxy prepared to blow Man United out of water with $18m contract offer for Ibrahimovic

LA Galaxy are prepared to prove they’re serious about bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to MLS this summer by making him the highest-paid player in league history, with an offer that would see him pick up a significant pay rise from his current Manchester United deal, according to the Express.

Ibrahimovic currently earns around £11 million per season at United, which equates to about £210,000 per week. However the Galaxy are reportedly offering the iconic striker a deal worth £15 million a year – £290,000 per week.

That works out as roughly $18 million per season, although with Ibrahimovic currently 35-years-old it is unclear how many seasons he’ll be offered on any potential deal with LA.

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What is clear is that as things stand Ibrahimovic will be a free agent for the second time in as many years come the end of June, as he is yet to put pen to paper on a one-year extension at United despite reportedly agreeing to earlier this season.

There is a good chance an agreement will be reached with the Red Devils before the end of the season, although his decision will likely be made easier once he knows where the club’s European commitments lie next season, as another year without Champions League football might not be deemed good enough.

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Kaka is currently the highest-paid player in MLS, earning around $7.1m a season with bonuses included. So Ibrahimovic’s deal would see him earn almost three times as much as the Orlando City star and make him the highest-paid player in league history by some margin.

The Galaxy have a Designated Player spot free for Ibrahimovic should he join, following the winter departures of Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard. Giovani Dos Santos and new signing Romain Alessandrini currently occupy two of the three DP slots.

Ibrahimovic has taken English football by storm since joining United last summer, scoring 26 goals in all competitions and firing the club to League Cup glory just a few weeks ago.

But with LA Galaxy looking very serious about a move for the former Sweden international and huge figures being thrown about, Ibrahimovic will surely be tempted to opt for the Californian lifestyle as soon as this summer.

Do you think we’ll see Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to MLS as soon as this summer?

FA Cup Quarter-Final Predictions: Big guns to deliver, another tough Chelsea return for Jose’s United

The FA Cup quarter-finals take place over the weekend with six Premier League clubs battling for a spot in the semis. Middlesbrough host Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime, while Arsenal face a non-league side once again in Lincoln City later on in the day. The remaining two games are spread over the following two days as Tottenham host League One side Millwall on Sunday and it’s another Chelsea return for Jose Mourinho with Manchester United heading to Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

Read on for all four of our FA Cup quarter-final predictions…

Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester City

Middlesbrough had to wait to find out who their opponents were in the quarter-final due to City’s replay against Huddersfield. It’s fair to say Pep Guardiola’s side made light work of reaching the quarters at the second attempt with their 5-1 win. Boro will have to work extremely hard to progress here considering they have won just three games in 2017 but City will be aware all of those wins have come in the FA Cup. However, the depth of Guardiola’s squad should see them through comfortably this weekend.

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Arsenal 4-1 Lincoln City

Arsenal face their second non-league side in a row in the competition with the visit of Lincoln after the away side stunned Premier League outfit Burnley with an astonishing late winner in the previous round. Arsene Wenger simply cannot lose this game, the pressure has continually mounted on him this season and if he is to depart at the end of the campaign he will wish to do so with silverware. This is Arsenal’s last chance of a trophy this season and they should progress into the semi-final without too much difficulty.

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Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Millwall

Spurs face off against League One side Millwall on Sunday afternoon in a game that is expected to be hotly contested both on the field and in the stands. Harry Kane comes up against another of his former clubs at which he spent time on loan and with the incredible form the Spurs striker is in it is difficult not to see him finding the back of the net once again. Dare we say there could be another Kane hat-trick at White Hart Lane?

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Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United (A.E.T)

This is clearly the standout fixture of the quarter-finals. Jose Mourinho endured an incredibly tough return to Stamford Bridge earlier in the season in that 4-0 loss and he will make sure his side are not humiliated again. This looks a tie likely to reach extra-time, since there are no longer replays in this round of the competition. The game is going to be a battle, United are without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Antonio Conte will be expecting his side to do what they’ve been doing all season and get the job done. Chelsea to edge it.

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MLS players reveal Man United striker would be best possible signing ahead of Messi and Ronaldo

Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be the best possible addition to MLS of all the names in world football, according to the results of an ESPN survey of more than 140 current Major League Soccer players.

The survey, which included players from 21 different teams, suggested that the Manchester United forward is the most-wanted man in MLS – for the players themselves at least – ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

New York City FC are the only MLS team who declined to participate in ESPN’s survey, which ensures anonymity for all those who take part in answering a wide range of questions.

On the topic of who they’d most like to see join MLS as the next Designated Player, Ibrahimovic came out on top with 22% of current MLS players naming him as their No.1 target.

The powerful striker has taken the Premier League by storm in his debut season in English football, despite being 35 years old, and could still move to MLS before he finishes his illustrious career.

He was heavily linked with a move stateside last summer when his PSG contract had expired, and although he chose to join up with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, he has been quoted as saying he could see himself “conquering the U.S. as I have with Europe” in the past.

Ronaldo and Messi are two unsurprising names that MLS players also want to see jump across the pond, with the Barcelona man just edging the Madrid star in the voting.

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The likes of Neymar, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez are all names that cropped up as part of the poll, with the most-wanted stars listed below, based on the poll results:

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 22%
  2. Lionel Messi – 20%
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo – 17%
  4. Neymar – 6%
  5. Wayne Rooney – 6%
  6. Javier Hernandez – 4%
  7. Andres Iniesta – 4%

Ibrahimovic is currently only contracted at Man United until the end of the season. United appear to want to tie him down for another two years, but the striker is not believed to be keen on doing so, so we could yet see him plying his trade in MLS before the end of his career.

Would Zlatan Ibrahimovic be the best possible signing for MLS in world football?