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Wayne Rooney, who has spent the last year at MLS side DC United, will join Derby in January

‘Every time I touched somebody, it’s like I am sending them to the cemetery’: Zlatan Ibrahimovic agrees with Wayne Rooney about the poor standard of MLS referees and is not surprised his old Manchester United pal is returning to England

  • Wayne Rooney, who has spent the last year at MLS side DC United, will join Derby
  • The 33-year old forward is under contract at the MLS club until the end of 2021
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic is showing very few signs of slowing down at LA Galaxy
  • On Sunday he took his season tally to 22 with a brace in LA Galaxy’s 3-3 draw
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he’s not surprised Wayne Rooney is cutting short his American adventure in favour of a return to England.

Rooney, who has spent the last year at MLS side DC United, will join Derby as a player-coach in January.

The 33-year old is under contract in the US until the end of 2021 but he will soon begin life in the dugout under Phillip Cocu.

Wayne Rooney, who has spent the last year at MLS side DC United, will join Derby in January

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Wayne Rooney, who has spent the last year at MLS side DC United, will join Derby in January

Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, is four years Rooney’s senior but the LA Galaxy striker is showing few signs of slowing down.

On Sunday he took his season tally to 22 with a brace in LA Galaxy’s 3-3 draw with rivals LAFC.

After the match, he addressed Rooney’s future, saying of his former Manchester United team-mate: ‘I’m not surprised (he’s going back). Absolutely not.

‘He came, he tried, he did his best and, yeah, he had patience. You need a lot of patience and it has finished the patience.’ The Swede added: ‘I’m in a different position than Wazza. Wazza is much younger than me. I am old but still dominating, still making the difference.’ 

Ibrahimovic has sympathy for his former team-mate. Rooney has complained about the travel demands on players in America and the Swedish star admits spanning this vast nation ‘is not easy.’ The former England captain has also grumbled about the standard of refereeing. Earlier this month he was seen shouting ‘every f****** week’ at the fourth official and on Sunday, Zlatan gave the officials typically short shrift, too.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he's not surprised Rooney is cutting his American adventure short

Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he's not surprised Rooney is cutting his American adventure short

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic admits he’s not surprised Rooney is cutting his American adventure short

‘The referee was not at the level of the game. He wants to go back to the drawing board and learn basics,’ he said after the draw with LAFC.

‘He needs to go back to the English man (refereeing chief Howard Webb)…. every time I touched somebody, it’s like I am sending them to the cemetery.’ Despite his gripes, the 37-year-old is in no rush to follow Rooney to the Championship. ‘He’s already looking for something else. Me, I focus on one thing at a time. For the moment, I’m a player,’ he said. So is the self-styled lion still roaring?

‘Yes. I could play easily in the Premier League. So if United needs me, I’m here,’ he laughed.

‘But Galaxy has me so I’m sorry… I did my job in Europe. I enjoyed it, I have 33 trophies that I brought with me here and hopefully I can get something here. Then we’ll see where that adventure finishes.’ Seventeen months have now passed since Ibrahimovic joined Galaxy from United.

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In his absence, the club have slipped further behind rivals Manchester City and Liverpool and on Saturday they were beaten 2-1 at home by Crystal Palace.

In Ibrahimovic's absence Manchester United have slipped further behind their rivals

In Ibrahimovic's absence Manchester United have slipped further behind their rivals

In Ibrahimovic’s absence Manchester United have slipped further behind their rivals

‘I saw the last game and I think they were unlucky,’ Ibrahimovic added. ‘If (Marcus Rashford) scored the penalty, it’s a different game, but a game in England is not finished until it’s finished. Anything can happen, especially in the last minutes where everything is in the heat of the moment.’ Patrick van Aanholt scored a late winner at Old Trafford after the ball was lost by Paul Pogba, whose performances have once again been thrust into the spotlight.

The midfielder looks set to stay in England for at least another year after United resisted attempts by him and his agent Mino Raiola to force a move to Real Madrid.

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Ibrahimovic and Pogba were close while both at United and the Frenchman still leans on his former team-mate.

‘I speak with him. A lot of advice I give – but nothing I share with you,’ Ibrahimovic said.

For now, the striker’s focus is on life in America. He admits the rivalry between Galaxy and LAFC does not compare to derbies he’s experienced in Manchester, Milan and in Spain.

But he insists: ‘MLS is an exciting league. It’s a growing league… there are a lot of things happening. I enjoy it but there are a lot of things to become better, to come up in level, which it will time by time.

‘I think it will take time (to become a major footballing force) but they have all the possibilities,’ he added. ‘We’re in the US, where nothing is impossible.

Ibrahimovic has sympathy for his former team-mate who has complained about travelling
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Ibrahimovic has sympathy for his former team-mate who has complained about travelling

Ibrahimovic has sympathy for his former team-mate who has complained about travelling