Longing for some wholesale production in Europe is Serie A champion Inter Milan, with the machinations of President Massimo Moratti certainly focused on satisfying that itch.
And to validate that quest, his team is vying to rip off a page of FC Barcelona’s recent recipe for Champions League triumph. That interest is reported to be in the form of Samuel Eto’o and some €40 million in compensation in exchange for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The swap has not been consummated yet, but it is reported that Eto’o’s agent, Jose Maria Mesalles, will engage in negotiations with Inter’s camp of executives to iron out personal terms, according to Sky Sports.
If the deal is concluded and eventually becomes a reality, it could be noted as the most incisive transaction of this offseason.
Of course, the swap heavily favors the Italian giant. And this type of movement happens when a club wins the majority of their competitions — as Barcelona did by earning the treble of victories in the Copa Del Rey, La Liga, and Champions League.
“There is not a single major reason for this decision. It is a matter of feeling and sensations,” said coach Pep Guardiola. “It’s just that after winning so much, we must change the squad — that’s all. There are no other reasons.”
To the contrary, word about an alleged rift in the dressing room between the Cameroon striker and management has spread, but no such notion was verified.
Though that doesn’t dramatically change Guardiola’s stance on the current affair, as he has his hands ready for the sendoff.
“I think it would be the best for Barcelona if Eto’o does leave, and his sale is my decision,” he said. “Inter have the money to make Eto’o happy, but if he wants to stay, then I will have no problem with that.”
Considering the way in which Inter has manipulated the market to capture some of the most touted targets, the addition of Eto’o and Aleksandr Hleb, who may join the Milan-based club on a loan spell, implies the club should be a supreme force in Europe next season.
With freshly signed Lucio consolidating the line of central defense along with midfielder Thiago Motta and clinical striker Diego Milito, Inter could wield one of, if not the most prolific attack in Europe next season.
Although Eto’o was plagued by injury in the past three years, he managed to resurrect his scoring touch last year, notching 36 goals in all competitions.
The underrated Hleb, who struggled to find a position in Barcelona’s midfield but showcased his playmaking prowess with Arsenal and Stuttgart, could easily facilitate play and, with Dejan Stankovic, provide a one-two punch.
The absence of Ibrahimovic would be hardly missed, and perhaps should even be prodded, for Inter would also drop their reliance on a single striker. A one-dimensional reliance in the offensive flank of the field would give way to a more balanced and multi-faceted attack, one bearing even more strengthening options in one Mario Balotelli and David Suazo as well.
Even if Balotelli blows steam over a potential lack of playing time, a heated medley of eminent and nascent talent striving for more responsibilities on the front end isn’t necessarily a bad thought — and that’s where coach Jose Mourinho will be tested.
These new fixtures, of course, pose the biggest impact on Inter’s disappointing Champions League performances in recent campaigns, which the club is evidently amid rectifying.
Plus, this is happening without the caustic publication of any imminent financial distress afflicting the club.
Sure, Real Madrid made the biggest and most spectacular of signings in Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema, but they have yet to really outline a team that looks indomitable.
Rounding out at nearly €200 million in transfer expenditures, Madrid also ventured into loans, one of which was publicized at €76 million from an agency called Caja Madrid. Whether they will be able to earn enough to reimburse that investment through the concessions of players like Arjen Robben, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Wesley Snejider is yet to be known.
Inter, meanwhile, have gone quiet into that good night before stepping up for this final centerpiece.
On the return flight, though, Barcelona would receive a competent forward in Ibrahimovic. Despite winning the Capocannoniere — the scoring title in Serie A — this year, the 27-year-old Swede has experienced disheartening trials on the international stage, including his time with the national outfit.
He has scored at least 15 goals in the past three seasons with Inter, but he lacked the game-to-game consistency needed from the sole scorer in the starting rotation. At times, he would be totally ineffective on the pitch, almost stupefied for a month’s worth of games.
Assimilation into Barcelona’s systemic football would be a refreshing start for Ibrahimovic, provided he learns to accept the club’s collective approach to their attack.
Just as this deal is titillating for Inter fans, it is also apparent that should Eto’o not receive the signing bonus he wants, the present agreement between the two clubs would potentially fall out.
“Everything depends on Eto’o. He has the right to evaluate Inter’s offer and make a decision,” Guardiola continued.
That wouldn’t be a terrible fate to befall Mourinho and his men, however. Inter has done what they failed to really do in the past — generate a bundle of shrewd acquisitions.
Their transfer history is blighted by dreadful decisions, culminating in the release of Fabio Cannavaro for Fabian Carini in 2004, a goalkeeper who now plays in Spain’s second-tier league.
Eto’o and the money that would accompany him would surely erase the relevancy of that predisposition.
Anthony Lopopolo is a scribe forBleacher Report, the open source sports network.