Zlatan Ibrahimovic Says He's the Greatest Player in MLS History: 'That Is True'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 29, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Zlatan Ibrahimovic #9 of Los Angeles Galaxy during the MLS Western Conference Semi-final between Los Angeles FC and Los Angeles Galaxy at the Banc of California Stadium on October 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles FC won the match 5-3 (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)
Shaun Clark/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he's the greatest player to ever step on an MLS field.

Ibrahimovic, who spent two seasons in L.A. before joining AC Milan to continue his decorated European club career, said Friday on ESPN's Gab & Juls Show the North American league helped him "feel alive" but didn't provide enough competition to seriously challenge him.

"But the problem was I was still too alive," he said. "So I was too good for the whole competition. That is what I showed. And I'm the best ever to play in MLS and that is not me having ego or trying to show off now. That is true."

Ibrahimovic was speaking in terms of players' overall accomplishments, not the best player based solely on their MLS performance.

The 40-year-old Swede did enjoy success during his short stay stateside. He recorded 53 goals in 58 appearances for the Galaxy, including several highlight-reel moments.

He's far from the only European star who's made the MLS move during the latter stages of their career, however, so he might face a debate about whether he's clearly the best player to grace the North American league.

Some notables include David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka. None of them were at their peak when they arrived, but they all helped bring some prestige to help grow MLS.

Ibrahimovic said on the Gab & Juls Show he didn't encounter the lack of interest that players warned him about before he signed with the Galaxy in 2018.

"And I'm very proud I played for the MLS, because they were saying to me the stadiums are pretty empty when you play in that," he said. "There was no empty stadiums when I was playing. It was even overbooked, so I cannot complain, and I'm very happy I was there."

The 11-time Ballon d'Or nominee added it's possible he could follow in Beckham's footsteps, eventually returning to the MLS as a club owner following his on-field retirement.

He didn't give a timetable for when that could happen, but his performance has dipped a bit for AC Milan during the 2021-22 season. He's tallied just eight goals in 24 matches across all competitions while splitting time between starting and reserve roles.

That said, Ibrahimovic's legacy as one of the best strikers in history is already set in stone after a decorated career that also featured stops at Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.