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Baxter: Zlatan LA Galaxy return not a sure thing

Is Zlatan using his leverage to influence the club?

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Could Zlatan Ibrahimovic be thinking about leaving LA?

The reliable Kevin Baxter posted a few tweets today that have Galaxy fans on high alert. According to the LA Times reporter, the Swedish target striker has not yet fully committed to the Galaxy for 2019.

First impressions? Despite the LA Galaxy’s struggles this season, Ibra is clearly happy and having a blast in Los Angeles. No one knows for sure, but it is unlikely Zlatan wants out of his current situation turmoil and all, nor is Ibra probably interested in heading to another MLS club.

With that in mind, there are two possibilities why Ibrahimovic would not rule out a winter departure publicly.

Zlatan is grossly underpaid. Ibra is a worldwide superstar who elevated the league’s stature upon his arrival and proceeded to bang home 17 goals and 8 assists in impossibly stylish fashion, on a TAM contract.

Pay the man.

Zlatan is unhappy with the team. The organization is a dysfunctional mess, and if Ibrahimovic perceives the front office can’t get the job done, then why not leverage the club to make the necessary changes?

Friday’s training session provided a possible clue. When MLS beat writer Scott French asked Ibra what needs to happen for the Galaxy to become more competitive, Zlatan responded succinctly.

Tellingly when pressed to envision a scenario that would result in his departure, Ibra was quick to reiterate his commitment to the present.

“I have five games, I’m happy. Physically I feel strong, I feel good, I’m producing.”

“I just need to win games, and then everything is perfect.”

Whatever Zlatan’s motives are, it is clear Ibrahimovic has all the leverage in any negotiations with the organization. Should Ibra desire drastic changes, Chris Klein and company are going to have some big decisions on their hands.