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Manchester United confirm Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave the club

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Manchester United confirm Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave the club
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at a football match in Sweden last year. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
15:30 CET+01:00
UPDATED: Zlatan Ibrahimovic's time at Manchester United has come to an end, the club have confirmed.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed for the Los Angeles Galaxy and could make his debut for the Major League Soccer side this month, US media reported on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated both reported Ibrahimovic had inked a deal with the Galaxy shortly before Manchester United confirmed the Swedish star had been released from his Old Trafford contract.

Sports Illustrated said Ibrahimovic's move to California would be officially announced in a full-page advertisement in Friday's edition of the Los Angeles Times.

MLS rules allow clubs to sign three designated players who are not subject to salary limits, a rule introduced when David Beckham arrived in the league in 2007.

However, because the Galaxy have already signed their designated players for the 2018 season, Ibrahimovic's salary will be limited to around $1.5 million according to the Sports Illustrated report.

That represents a fraction of the reported £19 million ($26.8 million) a season Ibrahimovic was paid after signing for United from Paris Saint-Germain in 2016.

The Galaxy have a history of luring ageing stars to America with Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane among those to have made the move to Los Angeles.

Former England international Ashley Cole is the club's current captain.

Ibrahimovic, 36, hasn't featured at all for José Mourinho's United side since being substituted at half-time in a 2-2 draw with Burnley on December 26th.

The Swede scored 28 goals in 46 appearances during a stunning first season in England before tearing knee ligaments in a Europa League tie against Anderlecht in April.

His form was rewarded with an extension of his contract for a second season, but the £75 million ($105 million) signing of Romelu Lukaku saw him slip down the pecking order at Old Trafford.

In a statement on Thursday, United said Ibrahimovic would leave the club with their blessing.

"Manchester United confirms that it has agreed to the termination of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contract with immediate effect," United said.

"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."

Ibrahimovic's reported arrival in MLS comes at a time when clubs are increasingly turning away from the recent practice of signing veteran European stars already into their 30s.

Several clubs have instead found success by looking to sign younger players from South America who view the league as a potential springboard for a move to Europe.

Although the Galaxy are the most successful club in MLS history with a record five championships, their fortunes have dipped sharply in recent seasons.

Last year the club finished bottom of the Western Conference with only eight wins from 34 games.

It was only the fourth time the club had failed to reach the playoffs, and the first time it finished with the league's wooden spoon.

The Galaxy's aura has also been diminished by the arrival this year of expansion side Los Angeles Football Club – who could potentially be Ibrahimovic's first opponents when the Galaxy meet the team in a derby clash on March 31st.

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