It is no secret that Inter’s objective over the last two-to-three years has been to win the Champions League, a trophy that has eluded the Nerazzurri for the best part of half-a-century. President Massimo Moratti would do anything to get his hands on the cup, and I mean anything. He would even make Luciano Moggi the best man at his son’s wedding, and twin Inter with Juventus, if it meant deliverance of the big-eared trophy.
So if Inter, Moratti and coach Jose Mourinho are so desperate to win the Champions League, why would they entertain the idea of selling two top-class players to the best team in Europe? Forget Real Madrid’s lavish spending spree, The Premier League’s powerful Big Four, and Juventus’ impressive additions of Diego and Felipe Melo, the club to beat are still Barcelona, and that is before the Blaugrana have even moved a muscle this summer.
Pep Guardiola’s team last season was one of the greatest of all time with very few flaws. The weaknesses in Barcelona’s already legendary team are the lack of: 1) a forward in the middle of the trident who can offer an aerial threat, hold the ball up and cause problems physically; 2) a top class left back; 3) a truly world class centre back.
By selling Ibrahimovic and Maxwell to Barcelona, defects 1 and 2 are immediately corrected. Despite the excellence of Samuel Eto’o, Ibrahimovic will offer Barcelona an extra weapon, a Plan B, whereby teams like Chelsea in last season’s semi-final will find it difficult to put 10 men behind the ball and soak up the pass-and-move attacks. The Swede will be able to mix it up, providing he adapts to the 4-3-3 and becomes more of a team player. As for Maxwell, he may have had a miserable past season at Inter due to a tense relationship with Mourinho and the emergence of teenage wonderkid Davide Santon, but how many better left backs can you name in world football? Five at most. Maxwell will find his best form again in Catalonia, meaning Barca will now have two rampaging Brazilian full-backs down either side.
With these two signings Barcelona are becoming as close to complete as is realistically possible. While the Italian school of thought has traditionally been to sell your good players abroad, rather than strengthen a domestic rival, Inter should have surely recognised that their priority is to win the Champions League. They have now made this task significantly harder.
While the player’s will is important, I am sure Maxwell would not have turned down a move to Milan or Real Madrid, two teams that Inter need not fear. As for Ibrahimovic, a transfer to the Premier League was always unlikely this summer due to the English tax situation, but it would have again been wiser to sell to Real Madrid, a team who still have a terribly suspect defence, and may need a long time to gel having bought two-thirds of a new first XI.
Finally, will Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito – two new forwards – strike it off in attack? I am not completely convinced, as there are a number of similarities between the duo. Milito thrives playing off an intelligent creative support striker. Eto’o is not that man. Similarly, the Cameroonian is also best while on the shoulder of the last defender. Can the two co-exist, or will they step on each other’s toes?
One thing is for sure. Unless Inter make one or two big signings with the money they receive from Ibrahimovic, it is difficult to see them beating Barcelona. And whoever wins the Champions League in 2009-10 will probably have to beat Barcelona along the way.
What are your views on this topic? Are Inter making a huge mistake selling Ibrahimovic and Maxwell to Barcelona? Does this make their chances of winning the Champions League even tougher? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com