Hundreds of LA Galaxy supporters mobbed Swedish soccer legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday night.
Galaxy fans serenaded Ibrahimovic with a song outside a private terminal after he exited a black van to greet them and sign autographs.
Ibrahimovic will hold his first news conference on Friday, and is expected to be available for the Galaxy’s sold out Major League Soccer game against the expansion team Los Angeles FC on Saturday.
The 36-year-old Swedish striker’s move to MLS from Manchester United was confirmed last week, with Ibrahimovic swiftly vowing to reignite the Galaxy’s fortunes after they finished bottom of the league last season.
Ibrahimovic is the latest in a long line of European stars to head to MLS at the tail-end of their careers, following in the footsteps of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry and Frank Lampard.
Greek club PAOK Salonika’s president, Ivan Savvides, has received a three-year ban from all football stadiums in the country following an incident this month when he stormed onto the pitch while carrying a gun.
The March 11 fixture between PAOK and AEK Athens, a crucial tie in Greece’s title race, saw a PAOK goal controversially disallowed, prompting Savvides’ charge onto the pitch.
PAOK have also been docked three points for the incident, dealing a blow to their title hopes.
Savvides is a Georgia-born businessman who was also a deputy in the Russian state Duma, the country’s lower assembly house.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make his LA Galaxy debut as early as Saturday depending on how he fares in his first training session with the club on Friday.
Saturday’s fixture is a historic one, the first-ever LA derby as the Galaxy face LAFC, who are in their first MLS season.
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid has said the team will monitor Ibrahimovic, who joined from Manchester United last week, during Friday’s training session before taking a call on his availability.
“We’ll see how he is when he arrives, obviously he gets here on Thursday and then we have to see how he is physically and everything else,” Schmid said after training on Tuesday.
“I think there’s a chance he can play a part in the [LAFC] game. I don’t think he’s going to play 90 minutes, but we have to evaluate once he gets here. It’s a long flight and [we have to] see how he feels.
“Friday is a pretty easy practice the day before the game. We just expect him to be able to be a part of the group and start to introduce himself to the group.
“It’s all about team and he knows that, he’s been part of successful teams and he knows what it takes to be able to compete, so it’s just the first step.”
Schmid says there are no concerns over a knee injury that has kept Ibrahimovic out of action since the end of December.
“We’re not concerned because we’ve gotten the reports from the doctors and from the physical people at Manchester and physically they said he was fine and was able to train and that maybe it was a little more of a coach’s decision than anything else.”