Zlatan Ibrahimovic made himself an instant hero in the eyes of LA Galaxy fans after scoring two goals in an insane comeback against local rivals and upstarts LAFC on his debut. The Los Angeles supporters love for the Swede might reach dangerous levels when they hear about the offer he turned down in order to play for the Major League Soccer franchise.
According to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, Ibra had a multiyear offer on the table from China for $100m. One. Hundred. Million. That kind of money could buy Zlatan a lot of hair ties, but he instead chose the sunnier climes of California where he is earning a measly $3m over two years. How is he surviving out there?
In all seriousness though, it's quite the coup for LA Galaxy to sign the striker despite not being able to pay him his market value, as the club are hamstrung by the league's rules on players' wages; each team is subject to a salary cap, but are permitted to have Designated Players on their books who are entitled to a far great payout. These slots were already filled up before the big man chose to leave Manchester United, meaning the most they could offer him was $1.5m a year.
Notorious super agent Mino Raiola, the instigator behind Paul Pogba's mega-money move to the Red Devils, apparently responded with "are you serious?" upon hearing of the offer, while LA Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski claims there are no sponsorship deals on the side to boost the player's earnings.
Zlatan's rejection of China is remarkable because the huge money on offer from clubs in the Chinese Super League seemed to have a magnetic pull on star footballers, as people like Oscar and Jackson Martinez moved while still arguably in their prime. When such deals started to become more frequent, MLS sides were worried that it might detract from their ability to attract illustrious names, although the recent rules on restricting the number of foreign players a Chinese club can have somewhat lessened those concerns.
The transfer does demonstrate that, despite the relative disparity in money between the leagues, there is still a certain cache to the MLS that the CSL simply does not have. Not only that, but a footballer who goes to China will largely be forgotten about by their former fans, whereas Zlatan's audacious volley and first goal for Galaxy went viral within seconds of it hitting the back of the net. To be seen and heard, the concern foremost on Ibra's mind when he signed his latest contract, one might surmise.