So much for keeping its head. Clearly tired of having their bids for a goalscorer rejected, Barcelona have signed a second player from Inter in 24 hours. Joan Laporta and Txiki Begiristain met with Inter President Massimo Morratti in Milan yesterday, presumably to take care of the final details in the transfer of Maxwell. The reality is the resurrection of a deal that was thought to be dead a month ago.
The Swedish striker will be moving to the Catalan capital in exchange for €40 million, Samuel Eto'o and the loan of Alexsander Hleb for one season.
Catunya Ràdio reports that the agreement between the clubs is complete. The players involved are satisfied with the basic terms of their new contracts, but have not signed yet.
Ibrahimovic will see his wages fall to ensure that Leo Messi stays the highest payed player, while Eto'o will get the massive contract he has always demanded. It was his wage demands that put so many clubs off his purchase, and made his stay at Barcelona so tense. Inter, who payed €12 million annually to Ibra, should have no trouble offering a similar amount to Europe's leading goalscorer over the past five years.
Inter coach Jose Mourinho is said to rate Eto'o highly, and it was at his request that Hleb was included in the deal. The Belorussian stated earlier this week that if he didn't receive more playing time this season he would leave Barcelona in the winter trasfer window. It seems Christmas has come early for Alexsander.
This move will come as a shock to some, but no one will be more pleased than Guardiola. Ibrahimovic was always his preference to replace Eto'o. He sees the former Ajax man's ability to play with his back to goal as crucial to the team. He also stated earlier this week that he wanted a complete squad by the begining of next week to begin preseason training.
One should not underestimate the role of Nike in facilitating the deal with Ibrahimovic. Barcelona is one of Nike's flagship teams, but has not featured them in any global marketing campaigns since the departure of Ronaldinho.
That leaves only the signing of a battling midfielder to cover for the January absences of Keita and Touré. Christian Poulsen is a sensible choice, who is being prepared for an exchange for Martin Cáceres, according to Turin daily Tuttosport. The signing of Felipe Melo will limit his playing time, while Barcelona see his reasonable price and experience in the La Liga as ideal.
This move should ensure that debate does not center solely on Madrid this preseason.