Goal.com Worldview: Ibrahimovic-Eto’o Swap – Good Or Bad Move?

A swap deal could be on the cards involving Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o. Goal.com’s International, Italian and Spanish editions have their say on this incredible exchange…
Last night the news broke that Inter president Massimo Moratti was in Catalonia to meet Barcelona counterpart Juan Laporta, leading to a media frenzy that the pair were in negotiations to swap Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Samuel Eto’o.

Ibrahimovic is well known to be keen on trying out a new experience after five years in Italy, while the future of Eto’o in Catalonia is also very much in doubt.

A selection of editors from Goal.com International, Goal.com Italia and Goal.com Spain have come together to offer their views on some of the key issues regarding this possible transfer.

Samuel ETO'O
FC Barcelona / Cameroon
Internazionale / Sweden
Age: 28
27: Age
League goals 2008-09: 30
25: League goals 2008-09
League minutes per goal: 99.5
130.8: League minutes per goal
Contract until: June 2010
2013: Contract until

1) Do you think Zlatan Ibrahimovic will join Barcelona? Do you think Samuel Eto'o will go the other way to Inter?

Ewan Macdonald (Goal.com International): The greatest possibility is a part-exchange deal with both moving; followed by Eto'o moving alone; followed by Ibra moving alone. In any case I don't see the part-exchange as more than 50 per cent likely.

Sulmaan Ahmad (Goal.com International): It's extremely difficult to say who will be going where. An exchange would be huge but not impossible. I would say just one of them going either way is more likely, with Eto'o being more likely to move than Ibrahimovic.

Carlo Garganese (Goal.com International): It seems clear to me that Ibrahimovic has made up his mind to leave Inter, and La Liga is the obvious destination. As for Eto'o, it is also very probable he will depart Barcelona, but if the interest of Manchester City is true, then the only way he can join Inter is if it is in an exchange deal with Ibrahimovic. If the Swede moves on his own first, then, unless there is an agreement with the two clubs, Man City will simply outbid Inter for Eto'o.

Sergio Stanco (Goal.com Italia): Ibra will do everything in order to leave Inter. He doesn't care if it will be Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man Utd or Chelsea, he just wants to leave. Why? Because the Italian Championship is not good enough for him. It was the same situation with Diego at Werder Bremen. Concerning Eto'o, I think he'll leave as well, but I do not know if Inter is a destination he likes. It doesn't seem like that.

Daniele Perticari (Goal.com Italia): Ibra to Barcelona, not Eto'o to Inter. Mourinho wants Didier Drogba as his striker and after this Inter will be desperate to bring in a defender. Ibra will leave, there are too many rumours, and Ibra seems to have made up his mind. Moratti let Ronaldo and Vieri leave in the past, so he will have no problem in selling a noisy player like Ibra.

Ivar Matusevic (Goal.com Spain): Ibra will join Barcelona. Eto'o is more likely to join Manchester City.

Juan Lirman (Goal.com Spain): Ibrahimovic is not the type of player Pep Guardiola needs for Barcelona, not only for his team but for his project. Zlatan is a very weird guy, with a very strange mood, and I don't believe he could fit right now in the best locker room in the world. And it's always difficult to set a mega-operation like this with Eto'o going the other way. I don't remember a double-switch like this in recent years.

2) Will Ibrahimovic be a success at Barcelona? Will Eto'o be a success at Inter?

Ewan Macdonald:
Ibra would be a big success at Barca because he would have a wealth of assists at his disposal against less obstinate defences than in Italy, meanwhile Eto'o will need to rediscover his old accuracy to flourish at Inter.

Sulmaan Ahmad: At Barcelona, Ibra would be hugely popular and entertaining. His skill would definitely get the crowd on his side and presumably, he would score many, many goals being supplied by all of Barcelona's creative players. In such a great team, it's hard to imagine him not performing in the big games. What could hold him back is his lack of defensive work, pressing defenders. This has been Guardiola’s main addition to the Blaugrana, so this makes his apparent interest in Ibra a surprise.

Eto'o at Inter could be tricky. He wouldn't get nearly as many chances as he does in Spain and he is not very reliable in front of goal. He has the pace to certainly get beyond any defence in Italy with ease - and he would be lethal on the break - but it's unlikely he'd be able to replace Ibra.

Carlo Garganese:
A 4-3-3 formation does not suit Ibrahimovic's characteristics, he is much better in a two-man attack playing as the support striker. The fact that Barcelona play pass-and-move team-football could also be an issue for such an individual. Having said this, given the incredible talent Barca have at their disposal, with Messi, Henry/Iniesta playing to the side of him, it is impossible to think that Ibrahimovic would not be a success.

Eto'o is a tricky one. He is a world class forward, but he relies more on his team-mates than Ibrahimovic. Inter have virtually no creativity in midfield, so unless Mourinho buys at least one ball-player in the summer, there is a chance Eto'o could have some difficulties. Furthermore, he is not a clinical striker, he scores one in every two-or-three chances, and in Italy he will have far fewer opportunities than in Spain.

Sergio Stanco: Yes, they are two great players in two great teams. I can't see any problems for either in settling in.

Daniele Perticari:
Ibra is not as good as Henry, Messi and Eto'o. Furthermore, he has to be the first one on the team-sheet, the top player, the master. At Barça he will have to be quiet because there are players who won twice what he has at Inter. Eto'o can be a great deal for Inter and Italian football.

Ivar Matusevic: Ibra is world class, but has a difficult personality. Guardiola is a great coach and I trust him to manage the Swede. Eto’o will succeed wherever he plays.

Juan Lirman:
Ibrahimovic is a very individualistic player and this might be good for the Inter squad, who were playing completely for him. Barcelona plays a different style, more like the Netherlands pass-and-move system, with everyone involved, running, switching places, etc. I don't see Ibra fitting in here. Eto'o can really succeed in Calcio. He's capable of playing anywhere.

3) Will this swap deal be better for Barcelona or Inter? Will Barcelona be better with Ibrahimovic instead of Eto'o? Will Inter be better with Eto'o instead of Ibrahimovic?

Ewan Macdonald: It's a better deal for Barcelona - Ibra is still reaching his prime, while Eto'o may have seen his best days. Of course, the clubs know this, so Barcelona will need to pay handsomely as well. Inter, though, will still have a world-class striker in Eto'o, and also some cash to build up other positions, so it's not too disastrous from their perspective.

Sulmaan Ahmad: An exchange, if it were to happen, would probably be a better deal for Barcelona. It's close, but they would get a player who works a little less and isn't quite as fast, but has a lot more skill and can still score a similar number of goals. Meanwhile, Inter would be getting a player a lot faster and who might even scare more opposition defenders, but one who may not be sharp enough in front of goal.

Carlo Garganese: This is a deal where neither side really wins. Inter are desperately short of match-winners, and Ibrahimovic has won so many games for them single-handedly in Serie A over the past three years. Eto'o will not do this, so unless, with the extra money they receive, they strengthen smartly in all departments, particularly midfield creativity, they will miss Ibra badly. Barcelona are simply replacing one great attacker with another.

Sergio Stanco: Ibra may do better than Eto'o as he would arrive in a consolidated team, while Inter are still looking to build their line-up.

Daniele Perticari: Eto'o to Inter, for sure. Barça’s forward is already the best in the world, Ibrahimovic is not. Inter need a player who is ready to make a big explosion, and Eto’o is this man. Ibrahimovic complains too much and sparks market rumours.

Juan Lirman: Neither team can win with a swap like this. Inter might try to keep Ibra and tell him that he has a new team-mate called Diego Milito, who can help him and the team improve. Barcelona shouldn't sell Eto'o...unless Laporta and Guardiola plans a big signing instead of the Cameroonian. I personally believe that signing will be Karim Benzema.

4) Will Eto'o give Inter a better or worse chance of winning the Champions League?

Ewan Macdonald:
Worse, far worse. No Italian side will win the CL in the next three seasons at least, as Calcio is on the downswing.

Sulmaan Ahmad: Inter's chances of winning the Champions League would barely change. Yes, Eto'o has scored in two finals, but it's not that simple. It's hard to say whether he would really make a difference in Europe, though in Eto'o, they would at least have someone who is good at being in the right place at the right time in the big games, yes. So a slight improvement, but not a significant one.

Carlo Garganese: Inter will only win the Champions League if they sign a couple of top-class technical midfielders who can create, dribble and take the game to the opposition. Thus, signing Eto'o will make little difference unless a Franck Ribery or David Silva-type player arrives also.

Sergio Stanco:
It doesn't change anything. Perhaps with Eto'o, Inter are worse than with Ibra. The Swede won some matches alone for Inter, whereas Eto'o is a different player, he needs the team to supply him. Inter need to solve some their midfield problems.

Daniele Perticari: Better, for sure. What did Ibra do this season in the Champions League?

Ivar Matusevic: Inter need more talent in midfield. If they have some creative players to assist Milito and Eto’o, both will score a lot of goals.

Juan Lirman: Yes he can. He's a very experienced player, he has won two Champions Leagues with Barcelona and he scored in two finals. He is a winner.

5) Will Ibrahimovic finally win the Ballon d'Or at Barcelona?

Ewan Macdonald: On years that a Barcelona player is liable to win the Ballon d'Or it's usually their providers/scorers rather than simply goalscorers - witness Messi, Iniesta and Xavi's plaudits this year compared to Eto'o, or even Henry. He has a better chance at Barcelona than at Inter, for sure, because of Barcelona's capabilities in continental football.

Sulmaan Ahmad:
Yes, hypothetically, Ibra could win the Ballon d'Or at Barcelona. He would certainly stand a better chance there than at Inter. He would be in a better team, as a result play better himself and probably stand more of a chance of winning the big trophies. That's not to say he will win it, but it would be more likely.

Carlo Garganese: He certainly has a better chance of winning the Ballon d'Or at Barcelona than at Inter. Having said that, 2010 is a World Cup year, so the victor that year will almost definitely go to a World Cup champion, which won't be the Swede. In 2011, Ibra turns 30, so it becomes more difficult from then on.

Sergio Stanco: Yes, it will happen and I think Ibrahimovic will do everything to ensure it does, even if I can't understand why it's so important to him.

Daniele Perticari: Ibra is only the eighth, maybe ninth best player in Europe. Kakà is better, Messi, Ronaldo, Henry, Iniesta, Rooney, Cesc, Drogba, even a fit RVN is superior. If Guardiola can improve his attitude, perhaps, but I'm curious. Ibrahimovic needs to change a lot from Italy if he is to challenge.

Ivar Matusevic: Of course he can, it all depends on his attitude and the spirit of the Barca group.

Juan Lirman: I don’t think so. He can never finish above Lionel Messi.

What are your views on some of the topics above? Is the reported Ibrahimovic-Eto'o swap a good move for the clubs and players involved? Goal.com wants to know what you think...