Over the past week, a deal has been in the works between Inter Milan and Barcelona that would swap strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o between clubs. Now that the players have each agreed on personal terms, it looks as if the transfer is finally complete. Altogether, Barcelona will be sending Eto’o, Alexsander Hleb on yearlong loan, and 50 million euros to Inter in exchange for the Swedish striker’s services. As Inter boss Jose Mourinho has said, this very well may be “the deal of the summer.”
Mourinho is obviously ecstatic at the trade his club has just finalized. Internazionale, desperately seeking their first ever European title, have just landed a proven Champions League goal-scorer in Eto’o, a fantastic wing player in Hleb, and enough money to buy one, even two more quality footballers. All this gained at the small price of offloading perhaps Europe’s most overrated striker.
Barcelona, on the other hand, must surely be second-guessing their involvement in one of the most lopsided exchanges in football this decade. Figuring that Eto’o is of just as much, if not more worth than Ibrahimovic, naturally a swap for these two alone would have seemed fit for each club. And, Barca most certainly could have wagered more in return for Hleb, who, while a misfit at the Camp Nou, has proved his brilliance in recent years, most notably during his time at Arsenal. On top of this, the extra 50 million euros thrown away by the Catalonian club seems absolutely unnecessary.
Barcelona will also have a bit of difficulty fitting Ibrahimovic into their formation. Unlike Eto’o, who is great at getting behind the opposition’s defense off the ball, the Swedish international will act more as a target man. It is also important to note that Ibra’s shoot-first, pass-second mentality will not be welcomed kindly by the likes of Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry. Most importantly, if Zlatan wants success at the Camp Nou, he must abandon his Champions League struggles and find the back of the net on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
From a footballing perspective, it will be interesting to watch both Eto’o and Ibrahimovic with their new clubs, but economically, this deal seems quite a bit odd. Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has stated his desire to attain new, hungry personnel after winning the treble in his first year at the helm. His wishes, though, have lead to an enormous blunder by Barcelona management. And at the cost of the Catalonian club, Inter Milan find themselves a much improved side heading into a season in which coach Mourinho is desperate to win the Champions League title that Barcelona currently hold.