Zlatan Ibrahimovic still injured? I give him an ‘A plus’, says his Hong Kong surgeon after LA Galaxy move
Dr Freddie Fu believes the striker would have featured more for Manchester United if he stayed next season, and that Major League Soccer will now be getting the best of him
Zlatan Ibrahimovic would have been ready to regain top form at Manchester United next season, believes the Hong Kong surgeon who saved his career.
In November, the 36-year-old returned seven months after suffering a serious knee ligament injury at Old Trafford, but has joined the Los Angeles Galaxy ahead of the new Major League Soccer season after failing to win back his place at United.
Dr Freddie Fu Ho-keung, who operated on Ibrahimovic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, is confident Galaxy fans will be getting the best of the striker.
“He’s doing really well, we checked him all the time with studies and tests,” said Fu, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, but has lived in the United States since the 1970s.
“The repair has been all sound,” added Fu. “There’s no re-injury in any way to him, in terms of structural damage.
“I’d give him an A plus, I reassured the Galaxy he would be fine. The Galaxy doctor will have checked him too, they have to for a big transfer.
“I know the medical staff quite well at LA Galaxy, we talk all the time. We talked to them for the transfer, we discussed everything.
“He’s really had no injuries, he just pushed himself so hard. Just more aches and pains. But everything we did was in good shape.”
The former Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Barcelona striker scored 28 goals in his debut season at United before suffering the career-threatening knee injury, but managed only seven appearances and one goal for United after re-signing for another year.
That contract was torn up by mutual agreement, with Ibrahimovic having failed to feature for United in 2018, and Fu believes the timing to finally leave Europe was right for a player with 33 trophies to his name.
“Right now, he can play in the Premier League if he wants to,” said Fu. “But the new season is starting in MLS, so if you’re going to make a move you’ve got to do it now.
“He could still play there at United. He’s very intelligent, not your usual football player. He is very skilful, not just physically but also he can make things happen.
“I think if he stayed he would’ve played more next year. But he is 36, it’s one of those things.
“Zlatan had been talking about it for a long time, that the MLS had been trying to get him for a number of years. After his injury and recovery, maybe it was just time to move.
“It would have been a hard decision but I know a lot of teams team tried to woo him, not just LA Galaxy, but all over Europe too. They did all want him. But he’s been in Europe all his life.”
Fu said Ibrahimovic told him one of his major reasons for returning to United was the chance to win more trophies – particularly the Champions League, which eluded him his whole career.
“He and the coach [Jose Mourinho] get along well. He liked Manchester United, he’s a hero before the injury,” said Fu.
“His idea was to see if we can go back and win more titles, especially the Champions League. After United lost to Sevilla, I think his decision, in my opinion, was that maybe that was it. This is my feeling.
“United won’t be able to catch up with Manchester City in the Premier League either. Maybe they can win the FA Cup which is good but not as good as the Champions League.
“He did everything else pretty much, won every major thing. Unfortunately they lost to Sevilla. I think he would have stayed longer, but he didn’t tell me that.”
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 23, 2018
Ibrahimovic’s outspoken agent, Mino Raiola, boldly claimed last week that his “incredibly intelligent” client will become a billionaire out in the United States.
“It’s ‘America, here they come’ – there’s a chance here to do other things than soccer. It’s a big market in LA and America offers other things,” said Fu.
“I don’t know what he wants to do with his life, but Los Angeles gives him more opportunities, like David Beckham. He’s got many endorsements and other things like that.
“I think he’ll be great on the pitch. Soccer is not as big in America but I think with him, he will elevate it to a level much like Beckham and other people did, like Pele many years ago.
“He is one of those characters. I think the games with LA Galaxy will be featured on television more now.”
Fu said he has also been promised some Galaxy match tickets.
“Maybe I can even go to Los Angeles to see him. I’m sure Zlatan can get me some good seats,” he added, laughing.
“I told him I would do that, that I’d like to see him play. The New York Red Bulls and Toronto are not so far from where I live either so I can see him when the Galaxy play there.
“We communicate all the time, my team and him. I sent him a message to wish him well, he’s excited.”