Swap Meet (Multi Million Dollar Soccer Player Version)

You know those swap meet things? You bring stuff to sell or trade...sometimes you make out with a sweet wooden tennis racket or old bowling shoes. I don't know if they happen much anymore but I have memories of going to them when I was young and being real excited until I realized everything there was shit.

Anywho, the soccer version of this is always rumored in Europe but rarely actually happens. That didn't seem to stop Inter and Barcelona from pulling off a blockbluster player swap....Eto'o, Aliaksandr Hleb, and ~$85M USD (around 50M Euros) for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Nothing has been signed but a FCB director has said it is completed and all that's left is players signatures. Ibrahimovic has left Inter's American camp to return home to Sweden before an apparent trip to Barcelona for a Monday unveiling.

The NFL parallel would be something like Adrian Peterson for Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley, and a 1st Round Pick. Would Minnesota give up AP for all that? Probably....would Washington? Probalby not but you never know w/Daniel Snyder (although, for arguments sake, lets say he's a non-factor)

This is a fascinating deal for many reasons.
  • Barcelona won an unprecented Triplete this past season and Eto'o played a huge role, scoring 30 goals in La Liga (2nd overall) and becoming only the 2nd player to score in 2 Champion League Finals.
  • He was integral to FCBs back to back La Liga titles in 2005/2006, survived the exodus last summer (despite a ton of rumors), and as mentioned, rediscovered his form for this fantasy seasons.
  • He's a 3 time African Footballer of the year...and there are a lot of good African footballers.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic led Serie A in goals scored with 25 and has been integral to Inter's 4 consecutive titles...although his move is much less thought provoking.
From Inter's perspective though, it was almost too good of an offer to be true. Swap 1 world class striker for another, only 1 year difference in age, and while Eto'o is a different type of player than Ibra, his ability to score goals is as natural as anyone in the world. When on form, you could make an argument for either being a top 3 striker in the world. They also receive Aliaksandr Hleb, a quality midfielder who never found his place in Catalunya but strengthens Inter's squad as their midfield has been what is holding them back in Europe. Most shockingly they will also receive €50,000,000 EUROS

Seriously?!?!?! WTF?!?!? What kind of valuation is Barca using where they could believe that Ibrahimovic is valued that much higher than Samuel Eto'o? Do they feel it is this necessary to keep the squad fresh enough in hopes of preventing any sort of complacency?

He lacks the pace that Eto'o brings but his touch is an upgrade and considering the type of soccer that FCB likes to play, short/quick passes that require a lot of touch, maybe the brain trust thinks that he is the optimal type of striker. He also represents a size upgrade and will probably cause more problems in the air for opposing defenders. And finally, his ability to switch to the wing is a little more natural than Samuel, which could make that trident up front (Henry, Ibra, Messi) a little more fluid and allow Henry to play in the middle a little more than last year.

Overall...I like what it does to Barcelona's team moving forward. I do think that Ribery would have been more of an upgrade, and altho it might have prevented the fluidity just mentioned, he is more versatile and could have helped Pep employ more rotation within the midfield and in the case that Messi doesn't stay healthy (god forbid), provide an equally dangerous winger. Also, it's not my money so I won't get buyer's remorse.

Eto'o does have a reputation for being a little inflamatory. Refusing to come on as a sub, being a "this is my job, i want to make as much cash as possible" and not a club first player. This could have also encouraged Barcelona to sell high but if you are selling high, how do you end up giving away €50M Euros as well?

An interesting move for Inter too, Eto'o has big shoes to fill in a league where goals are harder to come by. I imagine he will fit well and does bring Champions League experience to a team with out much of it. Let's see if Inter doesn't use this money to make another huge signing, it is widely known that Signore Mourinho has been in search of a top class midfielder since his arrival.

And now...a few videos to introduce you all...

First...Mr Zlatan Ibrahimovic

And now my ganked tributes to Samuel Eto'o...god speed good man

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