Ibrahimovic edges closer to Barcelona move

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Football

Barcelona are edging ever closer to the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the giant Swedish international agreeing personal terms with the reigning European champions. It is a deal that will see Samuel Eto’o move in the opposite direction to Inter Milan.

It is undoubtedly one of the biggest transfer stories of the summer. For both clubs, they will be losing their top scorers and it could prove a risky move.

Eto’o is a proven goal scorer in Spain and was crucial to Barcelona claiming an unprecedented treble haul last season. The Cameroonian spent five successful years at the Nou Camp, making 200 appearances while scoring 130 goals.

He possesses raw pace which he so often uses to exploit the offside trap and escape the clutches of chasing defenders. The 28-year-old is a natural finisher and rarely misses an opportunity to score.

A world class player, but one that is dependent on his fellow team mates to create chances for him to finish. Blessed with support from prestigious talents like Messi, Henry, Iniesta and Xabi, last season they were able to carve open resolute defences allowing Eto’o to apply the finishing touch.

Inter Milan are a much more industrious side. The Nerazzuri only possess one creative genius who can be compared to the likes of Messi and Xabi. And that was Ibrahimovic. Eto’o has the work ethic to easily adjust to life in Serie A but whether his team mates can create enough openings for the 4th highest scorer in Barcelona’s history, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile it’s difficult to see how Ibrahimovic will flourish in Spain. The departure of Eto’o means Barcelona have lost their regular goal scorer. Ibrahimovic isn’t a clinical striker, and has a playing style that differs greatly to that of the Cameroon international.

The former Ajax star is an individual player who depends on his own brilliance to outsmart ailing defenders. He possesses a delicate touch with an eye for the spectacular.

Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola, likes to utilise a 4-3-3 system. Upfront last year they used a lone front man, supported by attacking players marauding in from either wing.

This system may not suit Ibrahimovic who is used to playing a rigid 4-4-2 system at Inter Milan. Barcelona are famous for their pass and go system which sees them sweep away all opposition before them.

Ibrahimovic likes to have the ball at his feet and is certainly not a player to be rushed. At Inter Milan he was a big fish in a small pond. He will have to remind himself that the players at the Nou Camp have already won all the top trophies in domestic, European and for some World football. He is no longer the topman.

Last season the Swedish international scored an impressive goal tally of 29, a figure which was surprising for a player who wouldn’t be seen as an out an out goal scorer.

Technically strong, he does offer a new threat for Barcelona in attack and that is his towering presence. His aerial ability will be an asset that Guardiola will be looking to exploit in the oncoming season.

He also has a fierce shot and is able to muster an attempt on goal from almost anywhere in the attacking half of the pitch.

The nonchalant Swede does own a languorous attitude. His sluggish attempts to close down defenders won’t sit well with the Barcelona camp.

Upon the appointment of Guardiola, the 39-year-old stressed the importance of pressing defenders in the oppositions half and defending from the front. Another perceived flaw in his game, is his tendency to be anonymous in the ‘big games’.

Despite this, Ibrahimovic does have the motivation to win trophies. In his time at Inter Milan, he won 3 Scudetto’s but the San Siro side failed miserably when it came to imposing themselves among the European elite.

The deal is set to cost Barcelona in the region of £40 million plus Samuel Eto’o and the season long loan of Alex Hleb to Inter Milan.

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