CARSON, Calif. – On Friday, after a courtship that lasted three years, the LA Galaxy got their man.
Los Angeles announced the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimović, who joins the Galaxy through the usage of Targeted Allocation Money. During the process, the Galaxy’s front office and partner company AEG were omnipresent in the recruitment, but perhaps no one was as instrumental as the team’s Technical Director, Jovan Kirovski.
The Galaxy’s technical director was integral in the signing of Ibrahimović, relating to him through their shared experiences playing for top clubs across Europe.
“They see that I played in Europe at big clubs, forget the Champions League. They see that I was at Manchester United. They know that I understand what they’re going through, what they’ve been through, and what they’re going to because I played for the Galaxy too. That’s massive for me. I tell them the truth, the pros and cons of everything. In the end, selling what the Galaxy is, who we are, and AEG... that’s the biggest thing.”
The communication began during Ibrahimović’s final days at Paris St. Germain in 2016 through a chance meeting between the Swede, his agent, and club president, Chris Klein. Any interest on the part of either side was ultimately unfeasible, however, as the Galaxy’s roster already contained three Designated Players.
A little under a year later, Ibrahimović and his family visited StubHub Center with Kirovski serving as the tour guide, showing them the stadium. The trip culminated with a dinner between the Galaxy’s technical director, Ibrahimović and club legend David Beckham at a swanky Beverly Hills restaurant.
As Ibrahimović traded Paris for Manchester United, Kirovski, an ex-United academy player, remained engaged and kept the relationship going with constant communication.
“Whether we did this deal or not, this is a three-year project where we stayed engaged. We kept our relationships and we maintained them so that we had an option whether we wanted the player or not. In the end, we did and we’re taking it.”
During the early part of 2017, the interest intensified with the Galaxy looking to bring the forward in as a Designated Player. However, the move was scuttled after Ibrahimović suffered a major knee injury.
“During this time, I was constantly in contact with him, just staying engaged whether by phone or in person,” Kirovski. “Nobody believed it would happen, but then all of the sudden things got real.
“It’s not easy to sign a contract, but now, we finally got it over the finish line.”
The Ibrahimović signing is the latest capture for Kirovski who was instrumental in bringing Giovani dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jonathan dos Santos to the club. After the conclusion of Kirovski’s playing career, the Escondido native joined Bruce Arena’s coaching staff as an assistant coach, but after one year on the staff, was hired as Technical Director.
In the early part of his tenure as Technical Director, Kirovski was instrumental in the foundation of the team’s USL affiliate LA Galaxy II. After that job was done, Klein found a different way to utilize Kirovski’s impressive resume by tasking him with helping recruit the team’s newest talent.
“Everyone has a unique skill set and you see that throughout our soccer operations group and coaching staff. I think one of the things that helps Jovan is that he’s has played at a high level in Europe and understands what is important to some of these players—whether it be Ibra or David or Robbie or Gio— that have played there.”
For Kirovski, his success isn’t simply about the relationships or his resume, but the vast network of players, coaches, agents, and technical staff members from across the globe who help him bring players to StubHub Center.
“My job is constant— like the stock market, I have to know value of how much people pay— Sweden, France. I know what he can make in MLS, China, Germany. I know that and I am up-to-date with the market. You have to know the world markets in terms of how much people earn and the values of certain players.
“The key to what I do is my network, built up over my whole career. That’s the key part.”
And Klein agrees.
“He’s honest in the way that he speaks to these guys, and having someone like that on our team is a great benefit to us and a great representation of the club.”
With Ibrahimović officially a member of the Galaxy, Kirovski says he’s hard at work securing the future of the Galaxy.
“There are other players we’re talking to now, that have us planning ahead. We’re already looking down the road at players for the next two years and three years. We’re constantly keeping relationships going for that reason. It’s important for our future as a club."