By 90Min
October 30, 2019

So, you've all seen the announcement now.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 'coming back' to Spain. On Tuesday 29 October the 11-time Guldbollen (Sweden's Golden Ball) winner teased on social media with a four-second clip that revealed he is returning to Spain.

The words sparked intrigue across the web, with click-hungry social accounts asking followers which La Liga club the veteran striker could be turning up at in the near future?

However, before you get that Barcelona/Real Madrid/Atletico Madrid/Eibar(?) shirt printed up, it's worth taking a few things into consideration.

Harry How/GettyImages

While Ibrahimovic's MLS season has now finished with LA Galaxy (thanks to a playoff defeat to rivals LAFC), he is still technically their player until the end of the year when his one-year contract expires.

Neither Ibrahimovic nor LA Galaxy have officially ruled out an extension yet, with the striker scoring 30 in 29 in the 2019 season and making the MLS Best XI.

Even if Zlatan were to sever ties with Galaxy, there really is nowhere for him to go in Spain. The 38-year-old was paid $7.2m for his year in MLS, roughly €6.5m, which equates to a weekly wage of €125,000. While those numbers are relatively small fry for La Liga's big three of BarcelonaReal Madrid and Atletico Madrid, none of those three clubs need him...at all.

Barcelona, famously, experimented with Ibrahimovic ten years ago under Pep Guardiola, with the Swede lasting just a season before being packed off to Milan. With the most individual scorers of any team in Europe's 'big five' leagues this season, Barça have little need to gamble on Zlatan again.

Denis Doyle/GettyImages

Real Madrid's plan for attack is rejuvenation, with stars like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar potential long-term targets. A 38-year-old egotist, as much of a short-term marketing boost as it might be, is not really worth consideration. Shifting out expensive deadwood is more of an urgent priority.

Finally, there's Atletico. Does Zlatan seem like a Diego Simeone player to you? No, didn't think so.

For the rest of La Liga, it's slim pickings. The wealthiest are Sevilla and Valencia but, surely both would baulk at the thought of doing the financial gymnastics to crowbar in a past-it Zlatan as their top earner for a one-year deal.

For most of the other 16 teams in the league, €4m a year, or around €80,000 a week (with the notable exception of Nabil Fekir at Real Betis) is the upper limit of spending on players. The Spanish system is still some way off the riches of the Premier League, awash with TV money.

Aitor Alcalde Colomer/GettyImages

So, if no club needs nor can afford him and his deal with LA Galaxy isn't actually over yet, what is the teaser really about?  

The answer, as you may have already deduced, is it's a PR stunt.

Amateur sleuths on Twitter have already hypothesised that the teaser is simply a pre-empt to the announcement of a betting company, with which Ibrahimovic works, coming to Spain.

This, or another piece of sponsored content, seems the way it is.

If you remember, prior to the 2018 World Cup, Ibrahimovic posted similarly cryptic social media messages, asking fans to look out for him in Russia. The implication was that he might have been ending his retirement to play at the tournament.

View this post on Instagram

We are Zweden!!!

A post shared by Zlatan Ibrahimović (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on

The posts were seen as particularly controversial as Zlatan had played no part in Sweden's qualification process and his possible inclusion in the 23-man squad could have taken away from a more deserving player.

Alas, the announcement came that instead, he would simply be in Russia as an ambassador for VISA at the World Cup.

Expect more of the same tedium here, sorry.

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