LONDON (Reuters) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic said farewell to Manchester United on Thursday after the Premier League club agreed to terminate the Swedish striker’s contract ahead of an expected move to Los Angeles Galaxy.
“Manchester United confirms that it has agreed to the termination of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract with immediate effect,” United said in a statement.
"Everyone at the club would like to thank Zlatan for his contribution to the team since his arrival and wishes him well for the future," they said on their website. (www.manutd.com)
The 36-year-old, Sweden’s record scorer with 62 goals in 116 games, has been linked with a move to the U.S. for some time as he looks to write another chapter in his glittering club career.
“Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United,” he said in a message to his 30 million followers on Instagram.
“Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach (Jose Mourinho), the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. #foreverred.”
His former Sweden team mates said the striker would shine in Major League Soccer if he did join LA Galaxy.
“It would be fun for them to get him over there and it’s always fun to see Zlatan play football,” Sweden defender Pontus Jansson, who like Ibrahimovic started his professional career at Swedish club Malmo FF, told reporters on Thursday.
“I haven’t seen Zlatan play in a long time, he’s had problems with injuries, but this will be a good start for him to get playing again,” Jansson said as he prepared for Sweden’s World Cup warm-up games starting this weekend.
“It’s fun to see Zlatan take the step to the MLS and make the league even more attractive and bigger,” added Sweden striker Ola Toivonen.
Ibrahimovic left Malmo to join Ajax Amsterdam, where he won the domestic championship, before moving to Juventus.
In a career at many of Europe’s leading clubs Ibrahimovic won league titles with Inter Milan and AC Milan, Spanish giants Barcelona and Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain before linking up with his former Inter coach Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
Despite his age, Ibrahimovic showed that he could cope with the rough-and-tumble of England’s Premier League.
Ibra scored 28 goals in all competitions in his first season at United before sustaining a serious knee injury in April while playing in the Europa League against Belgian side Anderlecht.
Despite the injury he was re-signed by United at the end of the season and returned to competitive action in November, making his last appearance for the club on Dec. 26 against Burnley before injury struck again.
“You’ll be missed Lion, wish you all the best,” said United team mate Paul Pogba on Twitter.
Ibrahimovic now seems likely to follows in the footsteps of former United great David Beckham, who helped bring Galaxy and the MLS to global prominence when he joined the club in 2007.
Ibrahimovic’s commercial interests include his own clothing line and a recent deal with electronics firm Samsung to test new products and a move to the United States would be logical as he approaches the final years of his playing career.
“Zlatan has started to think more and more about his brand, and it’s time to take over the U.S. now. It’s always fun to see Zlatan play, I’m happy for him,” Pontus Jansson said.
Galaxy are expected to confirm his signing on Friday.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin and Simon Jennings; Additional reporting by Phil O'connor in Stockholm; Editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris