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Zlatan Ibrahimovic discovery claim 'strategic' move by Philadelphia Union

MONTREAL -- Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin said that placing a "discovery" claim on Zlatan Ibrahimovic -- who has been in discussions with MLS about a move to the LA Galaxy - is "strategic."

Ibrahimovic's contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer. And the 34-year-old Swede has no shortage of options, with Manchester United, AC Milan and clubs in China also reportedly interested in the prolific striker.

Philadelphia, however, probably isn't a realistic destination even if Ibrahimovic wanted to go to move there as Union ownership is not prepared to pony up the eight-figure salary the striker could command, multiple sources told ESPN FC.

But naming Ibrahimovic one of seven players on its Discovery List could still pay off for the Union. If MLS is able to reach an agreement with Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy (or any other domestic league team) would have to compensate the Union $50,000 just for the privilege of signing him.

On Saturday, Curtin all but admitted Ibrahimovic's inclusion on this list was for that potential eventuality.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer.

"Is there a strategic move to have him on there? Possibly," the coach said after the Union's 1-1 draw against Montreal Impact.

"You look at different things and different mechanisms that our league has, different unique ways that players come into our league -- [there are] ways you can be rewarded if you're a little bit out in front of things."

In theory at least, the Union would have first dibs should Ibrahimovic agree to terms with the league.

"If you're asking me if I'd take Zlatan on our team, yes, I would," Curtin said. "We always want to upgrade, we always want to improve, and he obviously improves any team. He's a champion. Anywhere he plays, he wins, he scores goals.

"I can't believe I'm answering questions on this, by the way," Curtin continued, drawing laughter from reporters. "Yeah, it would be nice to have him if we can get him."

Either way, just having Ibrahimovic on its Discovery List could turn out to be a shrewd move by the club if it ends up getting them something for nothing.

"I credit our whole technical stuff for being a little bit ahead of the curve," Curtin said. "We'll see what happens."

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

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