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LA Galaxy's move for Ibrahimovic a no-brainer, but is he up for the challenge?

LA Galaxy's move for Ibrahimovic a no-brainer, but is he up for the challenge?
From ESPN - March 22, 2018

In most cases, the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic by the LA Galaxy would result in unabashed euphoria in MLS circles. The Swede has long been viewed as the ideal foreign import, one who could move the needle in all manner of ways, from the field to the stands and beyond.

But given the news that Ibrahimovic has actually signed with the Galaxy, it's difficult to shake the feeling that this is an acquisition that has come 11 months too late.

To be clear, this was a move MLS and the Galaxy had to make. Sure, the signing will no doubt revive the view that MLS is nothing more than a retirement league. But Ibrahimovic is one of a few players for whom MLS should move regardless of any potential blowback. And given the steep discount it is getting in terms of Ibrahimovic's contract, MLS would have been foolish to walk away.

ESPN FC has confirmed an SI.com report that the deal runs for two years and a total of $3 million. In terms of being incentive-laden, a source with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed that it is comparable to deals for other MLS players in that pay range. As ESPN FC first reported back in January, the salary structure will allow Ibrahimovic to be signed with the help of Targeted Allocation Money instead of as a designated player.

But the question remains as to what version of Ibrahimovic the Galaxy is getting. Is he the physical force who dominated the top levels of the game for well over a decade? Or is LA getting a washed-up 36-year-old forward who is not even a year removed from a devastating knee injury, and can no longer rely on his once-prodigious physical gifts?

If healthy, Ibrahimovic would likely dominate; perhaps to an even greater extent than Didier Drogba did when he joined the Montreal Impact for the back half of the 2015 season, scoring 11 goals in 11 appearances. But it's a sizable "if". The fact that Ibrahimovic suffered a setback in December certainly gives one pause as to how much he has left to give. There is a chance that Ibrahimovic simply needs more time to recover. Cruciate ligament injuries like the kind he sustained often result in a player not getting back to full strength until a year has passed. But the impression at present is he is not the player he was.

The deal sees the Galaxy continue their return to their big-name-signing roots. This approach was interrupted to a degree last year when the club unwisely decided to promote more academy and reserve-team products and finished in last place, though it signed Mexico international Jonathan dos Santos midway through the season. Since then, the Galaxy have revamped their midfield, though the backline is still unproven, hinting that the money used to bring in Ibrahimovic might have been better spent elsewhere.

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