Ibrahimovic: Galaxy's 16-year-old forward Efrain Alvarez is 'ready'

CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes that 16-year-old Mexican forward Efrain Alvarez is ready to make an impact in MLS this season.

The Los Angeles native and El Tri youth international is yet to debut for the Galaxy but impressed for LA Galaxy II in the USL last season and has earned minutes under Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the preseason.

"Efra is only 16," Ibrahimovic told reporters after training on Thursday. "I saw him last season. He's doing amazing things and I think that in MLS he's the best 16-year-old that exists today, so I think everyone is excited, everyone is waiting for him to show himself, to demonstrate who he is.

"He's young, but I don't like to say he's young or old or whatever, if he's ready, he's ready and I think he's ready," continued the Swede.

Alvarez's chances of playing early this campaign increased with the news Thursday that Norwegian forward Ola Kamara has signed for Chinese club Shenzhen FC, although Galaxy GM Dennis te Kloese has previously warned that with the Under-17 World Cup coming up later this year, Alvarez may be away a lot with the Mexico national team.

Alvarez was born in nearby East Los Angeles to Mexican parents and used to represent his birth country at international level but decided to move to the Mexican youth national team program in 2016.

"Something happened during my last training session with the U.S.," Alvarez told ESPN in September 2018. "My parents got mad and everything, and when I came to Mexico they told me that if I wanted to go there, they would support me going forward. So I took the decision to come [to Mexico] to see if I liked it, and when I got back I told them that I wanted to stay."