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FOOTBALL

Frustrated Ibrahimovic coy on Galaxy future

Zlatan Ibrahimovic plans to discuss his future with Los Angeles Galaxy chiefs after a frustrating first season in Major League Soccer.

Frustrated Ibrahimovic coy on Galaxy future
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in actin for LA Galaxy. Photo: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez/TT

Swedish star Ibrahimovic has made a prolific start to his MLS career, scoring 17 goals in 22 games since joining the Galaxy from Manchester United in March.

However the 36-year-old striker's efforts have not been enough to transform the Galaxy's fortunes, with the club languishing in the bottom half of the Western Conference and struggling to make the playoffs.

Ibrahimovic, who has a contract through the 2019 season, was reluctant to confirm his plans for next year, according to comments in the Los Angeles Times.

“I don't know. This I have to discuss,” Ibrahimovic said when asked about 2019.

“This is not the moment to talk about that. It's something I'll discuss with the club. What they want, what I want. So let's see.”

Ibrahimovic said while he was pleased with his fitness, he was less happy with the Galaxy's results.

“I'm happy, I'm physically strong, I feel good. I'm producing, so I just need to (be) winning games, and then everything is perfect,” he said.

“It's easy to talk, but we need to do it.”

Ibrahimovic cited the Galaxy's failure to strengthen their defence this year as being behind the club's struggles.

So far the club has shipped 59 goals in 29 games, the second worst goals conceded tally in the league.

“Conceding so many goals, you don't win,” Ibrahimovic said.

“You cannot win the competition like that. It's difficult, and that comes from everybody, not only the defence.”

READ ALSO: Zlatan becomes third active player to score 500 goals

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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