The end is near.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on his way out, or so it appears.
After blasting his current manager in a post-game interview it seems like his days in Catalunya are numbered. What was heralded as the missing piece in elevating FC Barcelona into new footballing heights turned out to be one of the biggest mismatches of recent times.
Ibracadabra was supposed to be everything that Samuel Eto’o was not, technically gifted, an aerial threat and someone who could create his own chances if supply from Xavi & Co. was limited. In other words he was the much talked about Plan B in case teams would park the bus.
His stats show that his time in Barcelona hasn’t been a total failure; his numbers are good (one in two isn’t exactly bad) if not great for a striker.
But for the biggest signing in Barcelona’s history different rules apply. And that’s where Zlatan Ibrahimovic lost the plot. Unlike Inter Milan the Blaugrana don’t suffer from Zlatan-dependency nor is he the undisputed star of the team. And to make things worse his agent Mino Raiola has the biggest and loudest mouth around who doesn’t miss an opportunity to attack Pep Guardiola.
But even from a sporting point of view Ibrahimovic and FC Barcelona were never going to be the perfect pairing.
Though Ibra possess all the necessary talents to succeed and even excel in a Barca jersey he is often found wanting. It seems that he never knows when to pass and when to keep the ball. Granted he needed time to adapt and integrate into the Barcelona squad but even nowadays it appears that the big Swede hasn’t developed a genuine understanding with his teammates.
In Milan he was creator and finisher in chief, something that he is not going to be in Barcelona but even more important doesn’t have to.
The arrival of David Villa made one thing clear: There’s a place for you Ibra—on the bench. Toward the end of last season Ibrahimovic learned that the hard way when Guardiola granted Bojan a central role for the final and most crucial games in La Liga.
It is obvious that for better or worse Guardiola has in fact a preference for La Masia graduates.
Therefore it is safe to assume that he wouldn’t stall Pedro’s development just to accommodate Ibrahimovic who has still trouble adapting to the Barca-way of playing. In David Villa FC Barcelona get a striker who will hit the ground running a quality need in order to maintain supremacy over their arc-rivals Real Madrid.
Adéu Ibra, Ola Javier
As it stands Argentina captain and Lionel Messi pal Javier Mascherano will join the ranks of FC Barcelona. In a move that defies all logic and comprehension the Blaugrana will buy a world-class player at a cut-price fee (depending on which reports you believe it’s either 16 million Euro with another six million Euro in variables or 21 million Euro plus a further three million Euro) who is widely regard to be one of the best if not the best holding midfielder in the game.
It might defy logic but it is a very welcome and useful addition unlike the much publicized and ultimately failed pursuit of Cesc Fabregas. FC Barcelona add some steel to their squad of entertainers and at a very reasonable price too.
Though Mascherano’s game isn’t very fancy or spectacular (his tackles are…at least to me) he’ll fit in with the rest of the squad just nicely.
Just as the other signings David Villa or Adriano, Mascherano isn’t known to court controversy on or off the pitch and at least appears to be humble. The fact that Spanish is his native language is an advantage that assures the quick integration of him and his wife into the life in Catalunya.
In the end if those two deals go through this could be a very entertaining and glorious season for FC Barcelona and Culés around the world.