Column: Ibrahimović is not as good as you think

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On Nov. 13, Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović posted a goodbye tweet about leaving the LA Galaxy to play for an unconfirmed team in Spain’s La Liga. 

“I came, I saw, I conquered,” Ibrahimovic tweeted. “Thank you @lagalaxy for making me feel alive again. To the Galaxy fans – you wanted Zlatan, I gave you Zlatan. You are welcome. The story continues … Now go back to watch baseball.” 

To my awareness, baseball season officially ended on Oct. 30, so I’m almost certain people can’t watch baseball anymore. His use of the “veni, vidi, vici” phrase is also rather laughable, along with his arrogance, and here’s why: He didn’t win a single thing while in the MLS, despite claiming to be one of the greatest. 

Zlatan crossed the pond in March 2018 when he moved on a free transfer from Manchester United to LA Galaxy. Despite not being in the squad for their first game of the season against the Vancouver Whitecaps, he was included in their El Tráfico derby against Los Angeles FC where he scored the equalizing goal, and later scored the game-winning goal. His first goal in the American league was one even I will admit was jaw-dropping, and he continued to be a key player for the 2017-2018 season. He finished with 22 goals in 27 appearances and came in second for the MLS Golden Boot; not bad for a European player in an American league. 

Fast-forward to the 2018-2019 season and he saw a minor increase in performance: 30 goals in 29 appearances. This is where his arrogance and his rather annoying ego comes in. Throughout the season he had some memorable moments with the press, however some of his more notable quotes have been in regard to LAFC rival Carlos Vela.  

In an interview with ESPN’s Herculez Gomez, Ibrahimović discussed how he believed he was the greatest player in the MLS. Gomez then talked about Vela and how he was performing and asked Ibra if he still considered himself the greatest.  

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My city! My game! My rules!

A post shared by Zlatan Ibrahimović (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on

“Of course … 29, he’s playing in the MLS and he’s in his prime. When I was 29, where was I?” Zlatan said.  

Obviously he was in Europe where the competitiveness is far greater than in theSstates; but so what? As stated earlier, this season he got 30 goals in 29 appearances and earned the No. 2 spot again for the MLS Golden Boot. Want to take a guess who beat him? It was Vela, with 34 goals in 31 appearances. If you are going to boast about playing all over Europe, and must therefore be an elite player, you need to show it by winning the major trophies – both for the team and the individual. 

Vela got the last laugh at the end of the season when his side played against Zlatan’s LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup quarterfinals and won 5-3. Despite losing 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders in the semifinals, to say Vela is not one of the greatest players of the MLS is ridiculous. Vela won both the MLS Golden Boot and the MLS MVP Award in 2019, but in my opinion the most prestigious award was living rent-free inside Zlatan’s head. Even after the quarterfinal defeat Ibra talked about how he brought the MLS and the LAFC forward to the spotlight and I say that’s ridiculous. Even if Ibra never went to the MLS, Vela’s achievements this season are still remarkable. 

There should be talk about his individual achievements when Zlatan played in Europe. How many trophies did he win with a team? A whole lot, excluding the Champions League. How many individual trophies, such as the Ballon D’Or or the Golden Boot, did he win? Zero; yet he still claims to be one of the greatest. The closest he’s ever come to winning an individual trophy was when he was No. 4 for the Ballon D’Or in 2013. That’s just like saying Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are not the greatest of all time because they have not won a World Cup. 

The next time Zlatan or any of his “fans” claim that he is amongst the greatest, just remember this: He has won a lot of domestic trophies because he was fortunate enough to be on teams that were in their golden age, but he has never won a major individual trophy; which is most important. 


David Sandoval is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at david.sandoval@uconn.edu. He tweets @sandovalduconn.

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