Friday, July 17, 2009

Ibrahimovic/Eto'o Reaction

Barcelona appears to be set to give away one of the best strikers in the world for nothing.

Of course, Samuel Eto'o could leave at the end of next season without a transfer fee anyway, since his contract will expire. But that doesn't mean that he has no value now. At the moment it appears as if he will be included in the deal bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona. It's not clear at this moment whether the deal is actually done, or whether the sides are still working out the terms. But one report has Ibrahimovic going to Barcelona for 40 million euros, along with Eto'o and former Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb.

Just so this is clear, in return for their world-class striker, Inter Milan will receive a different world class striker, a potentially useful midfielder and 40 million euros. That's a pretty good deal for Inter.

Of course, because Eto'o is seemingly content to let his contract expire, Inter may only have him for one year. But they still will have gotten paid for Ibrahimovic, and can use that money to come up with a potential replacement after next year. Or perhaps they can convince Eto'o to re-sign. Who knows at this point with enigmatic striker. To be sure, taking on the notoriously difficult Eto'o is a risk, but given the package they are getting (reportedly), it's hard to imagine Inter not taking the chance.

For Barcelona, they've finally gotten rid of Eto'o, which it seemed they were eager to do, despite his second-best La Liga tally of 30 goals last year. And they've replaced him with Ibrahimovic, who led Serie A with 25 goals last year. Eto'o is perhaps a better pure striker than Ibrahimovic, but it's close. But couldn't Barca have bought Ibrahimovic outright for 40 million euros? If they couldn't, how much more money would have been required, and could they have sold Eto'o outright for more than that? Perhaps Inter said they would not make the deal without Eto'o being included, and therefore Barca thought this was the only way they could get a world class Eto'o replacement. If so, well negotiated by Inter. It's just hard to feel that Barca are getting value in this deal. Their eagerness to give away Eto'o appears to have led to a rash decision, with Inter reaping the benefit.

Finally, while lacking the hyperbolic ranting of HalaMadrid, I do agree with his general point. I assume Laporta doesn't think his own signing is imperialist. The market is the market. But the market is also about finding value, and one wonders with the money being thrown around this summer is above what will be required in other years. Perhaps the sellers this summer will be the long-term winners, pocketing the cash now and able to buy during years when Real Madrid and Man City aren't trying to acquire every available player.

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