Many Barcelona fans, neutrals and haters alike, are wondering why the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is even taking place.
Why, they say, is Barcelona trying to sell off a proven goalscorer, a man who has scored in two Champions League finals and who has also built up a strong understanding with Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi on the pitch?
Why, they also say, is Barcelona swapping a man who scored 36 goals last season for a man who scored only 29?
In short, why is Barcelona changing something that works?
The most popular "pro-Eto'o" comment that one hears is,"Oh, but he scored five more goals than Ibrahimovic did last season in the leagues! And he scores in the Champions League knockouts!"
Yes, Eto'o scored more goals in La Liga than Ibrahimovic did in the Serie A. However, you need to see how their individual teams performed as well. Barcelona scored 105 goals in the Liga, with 30 of those being Eto'o's. This means that Eto'o scored about 28 percent of his team's goals. Inter scored 70 goals in the Serie A, with 25 of the being Ibrahimovic's. This means that Ibrahimovic scored about 36 percent of his team's goals.
Who is more efficient?
People also seem to forget very easily that Eto'o has some of the best midfield support that a team can offer. With classy players like Xavi and Iniesta providing supply, any top striker would find it easy to score 30 goals for Barcelona.
On the other hand, Ibrahimovic has had to create most of his chances himself, and out of nowhere. A quick look at his goals shows that Ibrahimovic has rarely got the sort of tap ins that Eto'o is accustomed to being supplied with. A lot of his goals are audacious strikes from way outside the area.
Eto'o has very little dribbling and ball technique. He can score if the ball is provided to him in the box and the keeper is slightly out of position. However, if the keeper makes himself big and stands his ground, Eto'o even manages to miss one-on-ones. A shocking statistic from last season is that Eto'o missed three penalties out of five.
Ibrahimovic is a technically strong striker. He can create a chance for himself, and can also finish from long range. He can dribble into the box and can also deliver deadly crosses when required.
Most importantly, Ibrahimovic gives Barcelona something that Eto'o can never provide—strong aerial ability. Ibrahimovic is very strong in the air because of his height and will be very useful, especially when Alves bombs in crosses from the right flank.
A lot of people complain about Ibrahimovic's ego, something I personally used to consider a stumbling block. However, after seeing the behaviour of Eto'o and his agent this summer, I don't think any more trouble can be caused by another player.
Also, since he has never won the Champions League, Ibrahimovic will be committed and determined to do his best with Barcelona in order to win the coveted trophy.
Summarising, therefore, we can see the following about Ibrahimovic:
- Very strong in the air, something Barcelona need badly.
- Technically very strong.
- Powerful and accurate shot.
- Can create chances for himself.
- Eager to win the Champions League, hence will be committed and driven.
- Supposedly egocentric.
- Not as fast as Eto'o.
As we can see, the pros far outweigh the cons, especially when you consider the aerial threat that gets added to Barcelona's squad. Hence, I personally feel the Ibrahimovic detractors need to look at the bigger picture and not just compare the number of goals he and Eto'o have scored. Only then will they realise what the signing of Ibrahimovic could mean to Barcelona.