Zlatan Ibrahimovic in LA Galaxy, a revolution in MLS before Lionel Messi

Los Angeles Galaxy
Los Angeles Galaxy / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Six years ago today, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his debut for LA Galaxy, a player who revolutionized the MLS before Messi's arrival at Inter Miami.

Messi came to spark a revolution in the MLS. The Argentine superstar brought greater prominence to the North American league with his arrival at Inter Miami in July 2023. However, before the World Cup champion's arrival, another forward stole the spotlight.

On March 31, 2018, Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic captured MLS attention after making his debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy, facing city rivals LAFC, and scoring a brace coming off the bench in his first edition of the 'El Tráfico' derby.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic in LA Galaxy, a revolution in MLS before Lionel Messi

The former AC Milan player not only became a media figure in the MLS but also responded with goals on the field. Ibrahimovic scored 53 goals in 58 games for the Los Angeles side over two years. Despite this, he never managed to advance beyond the Western Conference semifinals.

Zlatan had a fierce rivalry with Mexican player Carlos Vela, who outpaced him in the race for the MLS Golden Boot after scoring 34 goals, compared to the Swede's 30 during the 2019 season.

After announcing his departure from the MLS to return to Europe, Ibrahimovic bid farewell with controversial statements, even proclaiming himself as the greatest player in the history of the North American league.

"I am very grateful to the MLS because they gave me the opportunity to feel alive. I was too good for that league, and I proved it. I am the best in MLS history, and I'm not saying that out of ego, it's just the way it is," he said in an interview with ESPN.