Zlatan Ibrahimovic will arrive in Los Angeles on Thursday, train with his new team on Friday and be available for selection in the LA Galaxy’s first derby with expansion LAFC on Saturday, the club announced.
Ibrahimovic, 36, completed his move from Manchester United to Major League Soccer on March 23, signing a two-year deal worth $3 million, according to NOV.
The former Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Milan striker said last week that he was ready to go and eager to help the team get better, circling the March 31 derby as a possible debut date.
Manager Sigi Schmid told reporters that Ibrahimovic is definitely in contention to make his debut on Saturday, but said if he plays and for how long will depend on how he looks in training on Friday.
“We’ll see how he is when he arrives, obviously he gets here on Thursday and then we have to see how he is physically and everything else,” Schmid said after training on Tuesday.
“I think there’s a chance he can play a part in the [LAFC] game. I don’t think he’s going to play 90 minutes, but we have to evaluate once he gets here. It’s a long flight and [we have to] see how he feels.
“Friday is a pretty easy practice the day before the game. We just expect him to be able to be a part of the group and start to introduce himself to the group.
“It’s all about team and he knows that, he’s been part of successful teams and he knows what it takes to be able to compete, so it’s just the first step.”
Schmid also said he wasn’t concerned about a knee injury Ibrahimovic originally sustained in the Europa League quarterfinals against Anderlecht last April and aggravated on Dec. 29 in a game versus Burnley, the last match in which he has played.
He said: “We’re not concerned because we’ve gotten the reports from the doctors and from the physical people at Manchester and physically they said he was fine and was able to train and that maybe it was a little more of a coach’s decision than anything else.”
Ibrahimovic joined United on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain before the 2016-17 season and has also played for AC Milan, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Ajax and Malmo, scoring more than 450 goals for club and country.
He scored 29 goals in 53 appearances for United, including two in the EFL Cup final victory against Southampton last season..
However, United’s £90 million purchase of Romelu Lukaku earlier in the summer pushed Ibrahimovic to the sidelines, and their elimination this month from the Champions League — which Ibrahimovic never won — allowed the Galaxy to secure him now, rather than during the summer transfer window.
Ibrahimovic posted a farewell statement to United on Instagram last week, saying: “Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history.”