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Zlatan Ibrahimovic to AC Milan? Not so fast, says MLS commissioner Don Garber

‘I never made the comment that showed up in an Italian newspaper,’ Garber says.

SEATTLE – Has Zlatan Ibrahimovic played his last match in Major League Soccer?

According to reports from across the pond, the LA Galaxy striker could be on the verge of a return to the Serie A with AC Milan — and MLS Commissioner Don Garber provided much of the fodder for those reports.

“Zlatan is such an interesting guy,” Garber told ESPN this week. “He keeps my hands and inbox full. He’s a thrill-a-minute.”

Garber added: “He’s a 38-year-old guy who now is being recruited by AC Milan, one of the top clubs in the world. He has almost set records with how many goals he has scored over the last two years, and he’s exciting on and off the field.”

Whether it was a slip of the tongue or taken out of context, outlets in Europe quickly ran with the story that Ibrahimovic is headed to Italy. With the Ibrahimovic rumors pulling focus from the MLS Cup, Garber devoted some time from his annual state of the league address Friday to respond after the MLS head of communications already tried clarify Garber’s initial comments on social media.

“I never made the comment that showed up in an Italian newspaper,” Garber explained Friday. “That’s why Dan (Courtemanche) corrected that with a tweet yesterday.”

Since joining MLS, the native of Sweden has taken the league by storm. In 56 games, Ibrahimovic has scored 52 goals and 17 assists. He has also delivered off the field, offering soundbites and narratives at every turn, all while showing that he has a lot left in the tank. He’s brash, in-your-face, and still at the top of his game.

“There has been interest in Zlatan from overseas clubs,” Garber said. “That’s all that I had mentioned, contrary to the quote that was attributed to me, and I think that’s positive. Zlatan’s 38 years old, he’s a great player, and certainly a very popular guy globally. If there’s interest in Zlatan playing overseas, I think that speaks to the value that he has, and it validates some of the contributions that he’s made in our league.”

Until a contract is signed, there is always a door open for Ibrahimovic to remain in MLS. The offseason will always generate plenty of rumors, but not until confirmation comes from the Galaxy, or Zlatan, nothing is written in stone.

Any notion that MLS or Garber has a hand in determining where players go, what designation they have, and how much they earn was quickly dismissed by the commissioner.

“We’re past the point where the league is involved or is even influential in decisions that clubs make as it relates to their designated players,” Garber said Friday. “Just to use Zlatan as an example, the Galaxy have to decide, and Zlatan needs to decide whether it makes sense for the Galaxy, and whether it makes sense for Zlatan.”

Few footballers compare with the skill, attitude, and charisma that Zlatan Ibrahimovic brings, and the former Swedish international was still a must-watch this season in MLS. If he decides to stay in North America’s top flight, it will be a decision reached by two parties.

“I know they’re having those discussions,” Garber said of the Galaxy and Ibrahimovic. “Those discussions will reach the conclusion at some point, and ultimately a decision will be made. I think that decision is both on the part of the Galaxy, but also on the part of Zlatan.”

Despite not being a part of MLS Cup, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has still found a way to bring his name to the forefront. He can thank MLS Commissioner Don Garber for the assist.

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