Normally, a 34-year-old striker coming to the end of his contract would not generate much attention.
But Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not a normal player.
The Swedish international announced his plans to leave Paris St. Germain at season’s end, joking that he’d stay if the club replaced the Eiffel Tower with a statue of him.
Assuming that even Qatari oil money can’t manage that, Ibrahimovic will be plying his trade at a new club next season.
And there will be no shortage of suitors for the man who has poured in 141 goals in 167 appearances in his four years in Paris.
So, who are the contenders? Let’s break it down:
This is a decent potential landing spot, but two things will need to happen first. First, Jose Mourinho will need to be the manager. The two have a history together, and the mercurial striker has said he’d play for him again. Second, United will need to find some way into next year’s Champions League.
That’s the only way he’ll come, I think — and perhaps the only way the club will have the financial room to sign him.
Liverpool makes sense on some level, but like United, the Reds will need to find a way into next year’s Champions League. He did, jokingly, once offer to come play for Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund side for free.
Of course, if the striker is a man of his word, he isn’t coming to England at all:
“The day I leave Paris, I either go down a level or quit football,” he said in a 2014 interview. “I’m very happy. I have a contract until 2016 and, after that, I don’t know the future. (PSG) is doing an amazing job to become like the other European top clubs. The day I stop football, I won’t look back and think maybe I should have played in England.”
Here’s a side that has a place virtually assured in next season’s top European competition, and if Real Madrid poaches young striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (as some are suggesting), there will be a need for a short-term fix up front for the German club.
He won’t have to play there for free, but one would imagine that he would make slightly less money there than in other locales. A financial windfall for Aubameyang (and surely there would be a big one) would help the club balance the books.
Anytime obscene amounts of money are being discussed, you have to include the Spanish giants.
The Sun has reported that Ibrahimovic wants to play for Zinedine Zidane, now prowling the technical area in Madrid.
Money is no object in the Spanish capital, and I doubt Ibrahimovic is intimidated by Cristiano Ronaldo or any other soccer player on earth for that matter.
That move would probably push Gareth Bale back to England, assuming Madrid has to make at least a token effort to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
Crazy, right? But let’s assume for a moment that a Champions League club that suits him doesn’t have a need for a striker — or to pay a man that will be 35 in October north of $1 million a month.
China, which broke its transfer record four times in the winter window, will surely have a club offer him a king’s ransom. If he can’t play in the Champions League, he might as well be cashing really large checks, right?
Until David Beckham gets the Miami MLS franchise off the ground, there probably isn’t a fit for him in the States next season. But if that is the main sticking point in getting Ibrahimovic to MLS, I’m pretty sure MLS will create a fit for him. It’s worth point out, however, that he did apply for a U.S. Visa last spring — and you don’t need one of those to visit.