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Jun 5, 2014

Ibrahimovic open to future MLS switch

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has told Sports Illustrated that Thierry Henry's success in the MLS could sway his decision to end his playing career in the U.S.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has told Sports Illustrated that Thierry Henry's success in the MLS could sway his decision to end his playing career in the USA.

- Thiago Silva denies Ibrahimovic rift

Henry, 36, has enjoyed a fine end to his glorious career since moving to New York Red Bulls in 2010, even winning the Best MLS Player ESPY Award last season as the league's top player.

Ibrahimovic, 32, developed a firm friendship with the former Arsenal forward while they were both at Barcelona, and though he has said he will see his Paris Saint-Germain contract through to expiry in 2016, he admitted a trans-Atlantic challenge was attractive.

"I don't know," he said when asked about the switch. "I mean, it's a question a lot of journalists have been asking. I have a contract for another two years, so let's see how I am physically in two years and if the opportunity is still there.

"I will really think about it because I find it very interesting to come over to America because my friend Thierry Henry is playing there and he's doing fantastic there, and he talks a lot of positive about the Major League Soccer, so it's an interesting thing if the opportunity is still there in two to three years."

In a wide-ranging interview, Ibrahimovic also addressed his well-publicised issues with Pep Guardiola during his brief stint at Barcelona, saying things had been "fantastic" for the first six months and that he still did not know why their relationship had fallen apart.

He added: "He never called me in his office and said, 'Listen, you don't play good. You don't play like I want you to play. You don't look good. You don't talk good.' Whatever. I don't know why, but it didn't happen, so for me that is a mystery because you buy somebody for 70 million euros and after six months you don't talk to him anymore. If you call yourself a man after that ...

"That's my opinion and my experience from what happened. And at the same time I learned a lot of things and it made me stronger. You learn from the negatives and from the positives. That's the way it works."

He said that Jose Mourinho, his coach at Inter Milan, had been a very different character.

He added: "Guardiola is a fantastic coach [but] as a person I see him differently, and Mourinho is like the different one. He is convincing you. He is manipulating you to do what he wants, and that's why he was so successful and even a fantastic coach. So he has two things in one. So it was a totally different kind of character and personality."

He also said he did not like Louis van Gaal, having played under him at Ajax during the early part of his career.

"He's the old tradition. The old general. He's the boss and everybody else can -- how do you say? -- they're soldiers. I mean, you have to have a little bit of feeling in the whole thing. Many big stars have problems with him because of the way he is. I understand if you're 15 to 20 years old, you put the discipline there. Which is normal, because I was in Holland -- I was in that school where he built up Ajax, and I understand it -- but when you come to a team with 22 big stars, that's what you treat them like? Like small boys?

"We were in a dining room and sitting there until he says, 'OK, go ahead, now you can eat.' Then suddenly we could eat -- so we could not eat before he says."

He said he had left the Dutch giants after teammate Rafael van der Vaart had accused him of deliberately injuring him and Van Gaal refused to take his side.

"At the end I said will not play if Van der Vaart is to play because my own captain is attacking me and blaming me for injuring him," he explained. "Instead of protecting your team as a captain outside the team and also inside the team, he is doing totally the opposite.

"He is trying now to attack me and get everybody against me, and we had a meeting with Van Gaal and he says: 'Listen. I'm the boss. If I tell you to play, you play.' And I was like: 'You're the boss but if I tell you I will not play as long as Van der Vaart is playing, I'm not playing. If you can't understand nothing just sit and wait and you will see me that I will not play.'

"That was my last week at Ajax."

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