Los Angeles FC striker Carlos Vela has hit back at Zlatan Ibrahimovic's claims that he's "by far" the best player in Major League Soccer.
The LA Galaxy striker talked a big game leading up to Friday's derby against LAFC, dismissing comparisons to Vela by saying he is easily the league's best player .
With his words as the backdrop, the 37-year-old delivered on Friday night with a hat-trick in the Galaxy's 3-2 win over LAFC.
Vela, however, also got on the scoresheet multiple times as he notched a brace in a losing effort.
Those two goals took the Mexican star to a remarkable 21 goals in 20 games played this season, to go along with 12 assists.
Those totals have Vela atop the league's Golden Boot standings ahead of Ibrahimovic in second place, with the Swede tallying 16 goals in 17 appearances.
Vela was keen to highlight his lead in the scoring charts after Friday night's game, taking his opportunity to hit back at Ibrahimovic.
"Comparing would show a lack of respect towards him, but if we look at the stats and forget age and whatever, I'm better than him right now, that's the reality," Vela said.
But the 30-year-old also took the opportunity to show respect for a striker who has put together a remarkable career.
"And in terms of the rest, he's been Zlatan and only [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] are better than him," Vela said. "The rest of us aren't in the same league."
Since joining the Galaxy in the early portion of the 2018 season, Ibrahimovic has tallied 38 goals in 44 appearances, winning the league's Newcomer of the Year award last term.
This season, Vela has outpaced his scoring output as LAFC have raced to the top of the Western Conference standings.
Despite Friday night's win, the Galaxy are still nine points behind LAFC, sitting in second place in the West.
Vela was keen to focus on that fact after Friday's game.
"Today we didn't have a good game," Vela said. "We are still in first and we have to keep that place and forget this game."