Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barca: Are They Mad?

Adam DigbyFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2009

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 02:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Inter celebrates a goal during the Serie A match between Inter and Lazio at the Stadio Meazza on May 02, 2009 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

As Zlatan Ibrahimovic completes his move to Barca, I wonder if the European Champions just hit the self destruct button.

First up, as Rafael Benitez would have it, the facts. Barcelona have agreed to sign the Swedish Striker from Inter in exchange for Samuel Eto'o, the loan of Alex Hleb and £38 million.

After you read that three or four times, scratching your head, check another source to make sure its right, then try to understand what the Catalan giants have been smoking.

Lets look at the deal from Inter's side. They are getting a two-time European champion in Eto'o, a player who scores goals at the highest level constantly. He is often seen as a problem player, a man who causes rifts in the dressing room. Mourinho must feel he can deal with the challenge, and after seeing him get the best from Drogba and Zlatan, you can see why.

They also get Hleb, a player who showed great technical ability at Arsenal, but who stuttered at Camp Nou. Im willing to concede that, given the two year age gap, Zlatan might be worth a Hleb more than Eto'o.

But Inter also get £38mil. That's thirty eight million pounds?? Why? What as he done to be worth all this? Take a stroll with me through Zlatan's career.

During the summer of 2004. Juventus were trying to build a new team under Fabio Capello and spent a number of months chasing Ibrahimovic, then of Ajax. Every offer was rejected, the man was not for sale. Then on August 18, Zlatan's Sweden played an international against Holland. A tussle between Ibrahimovic and Ajax favourite Rafael van der Vaart left the Dutchman injured. He accused his Ajax team mate of intentionally hurting him. Cue a deadline day deal to Juventus.

His first season in Turin was pretty good, Juve got 16 goals for their £16 million. His second year was poor, as Zlatan disappeared in big games, much to the dismay of the fans, frustrated at the players performances when it really mattered.

Then Calciopoli erupted, stripping Juve of the two titles won with Zlatan, and relegation to the 2nd tier. Ibrahimovic refused to stay, his agent threatened to sue the club if he wasn't sold to Inter.

So he was. He played three seasons in Milan, scoring 57 goals in 88 games. Then he said it was time to move on, he'd won all he could in Italy. Again Raiola made it happen, & Barcelona fans should be aware it will be their turn to suffer at the agents hands long before the striker hits 30.

In contrast Eto'o signed for Barca from Madrid in 2004. He's played 145 games, scored 108 goals. He also has a reputation as a disruptive force.

So, Mad Zlatan or Mad Sammy Eto'o plus £38 mil? Are you sure?