The End of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Adi-Oula Sebastian@JubeiKibagameCorrespondent IIMay 31, 2010

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 16: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Barcelona celebrates with teamates after Barcelona beat Real Valladolid 4-0 to clinch La Liga title after their match at Camp Nou stadium on May 16, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It’s been bubbling under the surface for a while, the worst kept secret of the 2010/2011 transfer season—FC Barcelona’s pursuit of David Villa .

Lights, Camera, Action—he is here, finally. David Villa, or as the official FC Barcelona website is claiming, “a certified goal machine.”

What does that mean for the most expensive signing in FC Barcelona’s history, namely Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

David Villa’s arrival means no less than the end of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Blaugrana career.

Transfer Madness 2009

After a hugely promising start into the 2009/2010 season, Ibrahimovic went AWOL after the turn of the year for almost three months. It must be noted that as soon as Messi found his groove back Zlatan lost his. Coincidence?

At the start of the season, Ibracadabra (as fans affectionately call him) delivered the goods. He scored in five consecutive games and banged in all kinds of goals—headers, free kicks, volleys, etc—and most importantly, the sole goal in the El Clasico, which further endeared him to the Blaugrana faithful.

The Legend—Samuel Eto’o—he replaced was (almost) forgotten all too soon. For a while it appeared that Pep Guardiola and his “feeling” were right. But then the winter and Messi’s form came, and Ibrahimovic went missing.

If you compare Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Samuel Eto’o it’s almost a no-brainer. Ibra is almost superior in all aspects—he has the superior technique, height, creativity, and strength. He does, however, lack the pace and the work ethic Eto’o calls his own.

At times Ibrahimovic looked out of his depth, playing with so many quality players as Xavi, Iniesta, and most importantly, Lionel Messi. FC Barcelona is actually playing better and more fluid when the volatile Swede is not in the formation, as evidenced when young Bojan started the last couple of games of the season.

I am not suggesting that Bojan is superior to Ibrahimovic; far from it, but he does things the immensely talented Ibra simply does not do—he runs the channels, switches positions, and pressures the opposing defenders.

It is not rocket science—Ibrahimovic could do these things easily but he refuses to. Or maybe just maybe his confidence is shattered because for the first time in his distinguished career he is not the absolute superstar of his team. 

In Barcelona, he is just one of many. Or, better put, a member of the 
supporting cast. The No. 1 spot, the limelight, and the glory belong to none other than Lionel Messi. And to make things worse, Messi made Ibrahimovic his charity case, he presented him with a penalty or as Messi himself said “he needed it.”

Transfer Season 2010/2011

Meet David Villa. The player Pep Guardiola chased in 2009 is finally here. But let’s not fool ourselves. By no means does David Villa bring the same qualities as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is, however, an upgrade to Samuel Eto’o. Or, in other words, David Villa is Samuel Eto’o 2.0.

And he is refreshingly different to both Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic—he is humble. Instead of making big gestures like Ibrahimovic when he kissed the crest, he just pointed at it and promised to work hard for the the benefit of the group. 

For someone who is worth paying 40 million Euro for, he is surprisingly media shy and doesn't court any kind of controversy, neither on or off the pitch. Which makes him a perfect fit with the likes of Xavi or Iniesta.

Instead of buying a left-winger, the Blaugrana bought a center forward, and as of now everything is pointing to the transfer of Cesc Fabregas, a midfielder, and/or Javier Mascherano.

The only conclusion is  that Pep will not halt Pedro’s development by swooping for a left-winger, and David Villa will not play in that position. And if Thierry is going to, as expected, leave Barcelona, it’ll free a slot for either Jeffren and/or Gai Assulin to cover for/challenge Pedro and Messi.

The higher-ups at FC Barcelona have learned their lesson from the Ronaldinho mess and will not publicly push for a transfer.

We have sold Ronaldinho for a mere 20 million Euro. Regardless of his form back then, this is Ronaldinho we are talking about. Less accomplished and marketable players have been sold for more. He was 28 years of age back in 2008! 

Now let’s hope Laporta and Co. will not repeat this mistake again when it comes to selling Ibrahimovic. Any sum north of 35 million Euro should seal the deal, because people tend to forget his massive wages. Getting rid of Ibrahimovic means we have another 10 million Euro (not counting the bonuses) in the bank.

It just wasn’t meant to be

In the end, the Ibrahimovic experiment failed. That one is on Pep. Twenty-two goals is a decent return for a player adapting to a new country and league. But in comparison, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo just went ballistic. I hate to admit, but his 94 million Euro transfer doesn’t seem too ridiculous to me now. I still wouldn’t say it is justified, but hey, you can’t argue with the numbers he put up in his maiden season.

Ibrahimovic needs to move, NOW. He is a cancer in an otherwise healthy system that needs to be removed. And on top of that, his brainless agent Mino Raiola just launched a scathing attack on Guardiola by suggesting that Pep should visit a mental hospital because he paid all this money to get him but won’t play him.

Side note: At the Championship celebrations in the Camp Nou, he was the only one who cursed (at Pique), and the only player who chose to speak in Italian (out of all languages), something that clearly didn’t sit too well with Guardiola. Besides, his personality seems to attract that kind of publicity Pep and Barcelona want to aviod.


Final Words

Bye bye, Ibrahimovic. Good luck with your new venture, and kiss the dream goodbye of ever winning the Champions League.


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