Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
It is a bit early to be making judgements on the new Inter Milan (especially after a lacklustre first league game) but the 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan at the weekend suggests the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap could completely change their way of playing.
Ibrahimovic, who scored on his Barcelona debut in Monday’s 3-0 win over Sporting Gijon, was everything to Inter. He was the target man, the talisman, the go-to man when a flash of inspiration or a goal was needed.
Inter’s over-reliance on the tall Swede was only exposed in Europe when better defences than in Serie A shut him out and nullified Inter’s occasional long ball approach.
In Saturday’s derby, Inter passed the ball more than I remember them doing under Jose Mourinho last season. Thiago Motta, a midfielder with attacking instincts which they lacked last term, scored a wonderful opening goal following a flurry of quick passes.
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has again lamented the lack of a playmaker* following Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Bari in their Serie A opener.
Creativity was already a problem for the champions last season and now talented striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has left for Barcelona, it is difficult to see where inspiration is going to come from judging by their Super Cup defeat to Lazio and the Bari draw.
Barcelona’s new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a glowing report by Pep Guardiola after their Spanish Super Cup victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
But the doubts remain as to whether his qualities will be enough to replace or improve upon those the side have lost with the swap deal which sent former number nine Samuel Eto’o to Inter Milan.
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.
It would be among the biggest swap deals ever in soccer but there is a long way to go before it becomes reality.
Inter Milan and Barcelona may have agreed to the transfers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o (plus a bit of cash for the Italians on top) but the players have yet to agree terms and that looks trickier than might be expected.
Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the ultimate soccer enigma.
He scores goals for fun when playing Bologna, Chievo and Palermo but often goes missing against AC Milan, Manchester United or Liverpool (which is why he is never in the running for the top awards despite the incredulity of Inter fans).
The tall-yet-skilful attacker has been racking up Serie A titles but the Champions League seems a distant prospect and with all due respect to Sweden, he is not likely to win any honours in international football.
During a typical football discussion at a Milan pub recently, a friend made a comment which really stayed with me.
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest there is to Van Basten.”
After thinking about it, I realised he was probably right. Ibrahimovic’s touch for a big man and his ability to score wonderful goals really do mark him out as special. It is right to talk of him in the same breath as one of Holland’s finest.
Having seen replays of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s remarkable backheel goal for Inter Milan on Saturday, I reckon it’s one of those rare moments when football reaches the realm of art.
I realise you risk sounding like a wally by comparing something frivolous like football to such a serious business. (more…)