Why are Barcelona paying so much for Ibrahimovic?

July 27, 2009

If your first reaction on hearing about the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic deal was “How much?” then I can assure you you weren’t the only one.

To land Ibrahimovic, who is due to be presented this evening at the Nou Camp, Barcelona will not only hand over the Cameroon international striker but will also give Inter Milan a reported 45 million euros and the loan, for one season, of Aleksandr Hleb.

According to Marca, who are not exactly fans of Barcelona it must be said, that makes the total cost of the Swedish striker at least 87.5 million euros (with Eto’o valued at 35 million, and Hleb for a season at 7.5).

So how on earth is Ibrahimovic worth close to 90 million euros? How on earth is he valued at double Eto’o, one of the world’s top strikers?

Ibrahimovic is the sort of striker coaches love. Tall and strong, he is happy playing with his back to goal and therefore gives the team a target man. He scores goals too, of course, and he has contributed to six league title-winning campaigns with Ajax and Inter.

But Eto’o is no mean player himself. The Cameroon international is also strong but relies more on his skill and explosive pace to get past defences. After signing for Barcelona in 2004 he proved to be the missing piece in the puzzle, joining forces with Ronaldinho to get the team back to title-winning ways.

Eto’o scored not only in the 2006 Champions League final win over Arsenal, but also in this year’s victory over Manchester United and he will leave Barcelona with a record of 130 goals in five seasons.

I think it goes without saying that Ibrahimovic is not really worth 40-45 million euros more than Eto’o, so it looks like yet another case of Barcelona letting a player go at far less than their market value, and for reasons other than simply their value to the team.

It happened with Schuster, Stoichkov, Romario, Kluivert, Rivaldo and Riquelme and now coach Pep Guardiola says he’s happy for Eto’o to go for no reason other than a “feeling”, even thought they’re getting next to nothing for him.

Why is it so many big names seem to leave Barcelona in such circumstances? Why have they never mastered the art of selling?

And looking to the future, can you see Ibrahimovic living up to the inflated price tag the Spanish press have put on him?

PHOTO: Barcelona’s new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden poses in front of a FC Barcelona sign at the team headquarters in Barcelona, July 26, 2009. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino


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Seemns like a crazy bit of business to me, not that Ibrahimovic isn’t a decent player but Eto’o and £40 mil!!! I can only think that they have looked at Madrid and wanted to do something as equally ‘showbiz’ as their rivals. I’m sure he’ll be a welcome addition to their squad but whoever negotiated the deal for Barca is clearly in the wrong line of work.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

welcome ibrahim in barca

Posted by rachid bouamoud | Report as abusive

Only the britts would ask this question, those in Spain remembers the stunnign performances against Real, Celta and the nationals and eve watches the “piss poor” Serie A once in a while…Etoo’s performances have been “good”, but most of his goals are tap-ins and end results rather than own creativity (the two CL-final goals being the odd couple) and most journos in Spain thinks anyone could have done it in that enviroment (no marking, good supply etc).Ibrahimovic n the other hand has been the central focal point in all of his teams, have scored some stunning goals inspite of poor enviroments (marking, no supply) and is the worlds best holding player by far (read; target man). He’s also won 7 straight league titles if you count the ones at Juve…I mean… you’d really have to be obssessed with how he’s faired on a few separate occasions not to understand his worth.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

i’m happy eto’o leaving. he will get motivation in interin barca he has won a lot-la liga, champions league, copa de rey.he now has a new challenge, that is to win the scudetto and the italian cup and possible champions league with inter.

Posted by nelson akanbasiam | Report as abusive

I think Pep wanted a player/striker to hold the ball for the midfiled to join the attack. Most of the time Pep’s team start from defence to midfiled and then to striker. They never play from either goalkeeper or defence to striker. In addition they don’t cross from wings. With Ibra they can play from defence and wings through air ball. More importanlty a striker like Ibra could have given Pep a choice of attack against matches like the Championship semi final they played against Chelsea.

Posted by Kamal | Report as abusive

i think the reason why the deal is so one-sided is eto’o will be on his final year of contract at barca. but still wouldnt have pay 40m more than eto’o though.

Posted by wllmhll | Report as abusive

You don’t understand this deal is because you dont understand football business. No matter how valuable a player could be, if he has only one year left on his contract, and if he doesnt want to sign an extension, his market value would be significantly lowered.It’s just this simple.Overall, it’s Etoo that doesnt want to sign the new contract that Barca handed to him, so Barca has no choice but sell him for cheap now. You think Barca would be able to get Ibra for 45M next summer after Etoo leaves for free?So this is a GOOD deal for all parties.End of story.

Posted by Josh Z | Report as abusive

Marca’s estimation of Eto’o’s value is ridiculous, is why; and given that it’s Marca, that’s probably done on purpose. Manchester City offered 25m for him, which was certainly (like all their other offers) an over-estimation of his worth. Eto’o was on the last year of his contract and was showing every inclination of sticking it out 1 more season so that he could leave on a free, thus netting himself a much bigger sum than the percentage he would receive from a standard transfer. had the club kept him another year, they would have received NOTHING for his transfer. Eto’o’s continuation at the club was disruptive and everyone from Guardiola to Txiki to Laporta wanted him out for that reason alone. Hleb’s leaving was as big a boon to Barcelona as anyone else, as he has been less than useless as a player and making unnecessary remarks in the press. is the €40-45m overinflated? yes. but any transfer, in this market, is going to be overinflated.i also sincerely hope that this blog had a post entitled “Why are Madrid paying so much for Cristiano Ronaldo”, as an €80m flat fee is even more ludicrous for a player of his caliber.

Posted by BA | Report as abusive

incidentally, have any of the players you mentioned actually surpassed their success at Barca after their transfer to a new club? i don’t think so. nor would i call a €35m estimation of his value (according to your own standard) “next to nothing”.

Posted by BA | Report as abusive

well the deals went through last night. Here’s an analysis of how Ibra’s departure could hit Interhttp://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKL K7779520090727

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Extremely bizarre deal. If Zlatan was 24 maybe just about ok, but he is also 28, and as some pundits have pointed out, seems to freeze on the big stage (eg Champions League, especially against the of late dominant English opponents).All this means Mourinho has just confirmed himself as a great wheeler-dealer as well as a top manager. Is that man bad at anything?

Posted by Tom Pilcher | Report as abusive

This is really surprising. He is not the same player I saw few years ago. Maybe Barca will be the place of his “revival”.

Posted by TipsSupremo | Report as abusive

Unbelievable. Barca payed more than Madrid did for Kaka, and almost as much as Ronaldo’s fee. Laporta got fleeced methinks. Only because Eto’o had an attitude problem and had to go. Yes, they got a GREAT striker back in Ibra, but they on only overpaid for Ibra, they also had to give up their leading scorer. You tell me how Ibra is gonna score more than the 35 goals a year that Eto’o scored?

Posted by Fonz | Report as abusive

short response: to beat galacticos (real madrid)

Posted by Herman | Report as abusive

[…] first question from state broadcaster CCTV, suggesting he had been forced into letting new signing Samuel Eto’o play a full 90 minutes, was answered […]

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