Zlatan Ibrahimovic with LA Galaxy will be a 'spectacle' - Landon Donovan
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Leon midfielder and former U.S. international Landon Donovan says he expects the sight of Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing for the LA Galaxy to be a "spectacle."
Speaking exclusively to ESPN.com ahead of Saturday's friendly against his old club the San Jose Earthquakes, Donovan noted that, at age 36, he and Ibrahimovic are both going through comebacks of a sort. Donovan came out of retirement just a couple of months ago, while Ibrahimovic is less than a year removed from a serious knee injury that required surgery.
"I was pretty surprised by it," Donovan said of Ibrahimovic's move. "I mean, LA needs big personalities, so it's going to be a spectacle to watch. I'm curious to see how he's recovered, and then how much he has left. He's someone who's the same age as me going through the same thing. It will be interesting to see how can actually contribute on the field, but it's exciting."
Back in 2007, Donovan was playing for the LA Galaxy when David Beckham was signed from Real Madrid. Such was the magnitude of Beckham's profile that his arrival was a shock to the league, the team, and the players. There were some rough spots in the first few years, as well as Beckham spending a considerable amount of time in his first few seasons out on loan to AC Milan, though he eventually proved to be worth the investment by leading the Galaxy to two MLS Cups.
But 10 years on, Donovan feels the Galaxy are better equipped to deal with a player possessing Ibrahimovic's star power.
"The league is so much more mature now than it was," said Donovan. "Gio [dos Santos] has dealt with big players, so has Jonathan [dos Santos] and Romain Alessandrini. Ashley Cole knows what it's like, so it's different in that way.
"I'm just fascinated to see how it all plays out. Where's [Ibrahimovic] going to play, how's he going to play? Who is going to come out of the team? How's he going to perform? How's the reception going to be?
"David came in very humbly, and was great in the locker room and nice with his teammates. I don't know Zlatan at all, so it's just going to be really interesting to watch these things and how it all unfolds."
The issue of who will have to make way for Ibrahimovic remains one of the more interesting subplots. Forward Ola Kamara is the player most likely to see his minutes go down. The Norway international scored a hat trick in a 4-1 win over Australia on Friday.
"I wonder what Kamara is thinking," said Donovan.
But Gio dos Santos could be affected as well if manager Sigi Schmid decides to go with two forwards.
"It's hard to know," said Donovan, referring to Ibrahimovic's impact on Gio dos Santos. "It could help him a lot or he could be one of the guys that's taken out of the team. In the end it's a good problem for a coach to have."
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.