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What David Villa’s Transfer to FC Barcelona Means For Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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The rumors, for once, came to fruition, as FC Barcelona will pay a transfer fee of €40 million to Valencia for Spanish international striker David Villa.  This tango (or the sardana for a more local, Catalunyan flair) danced by the two clubs since the previous offseason will finally end as outgoing Barça president Joan Laporta landed the player he coveted for two years.

Surely, Barcelona signed Villa to be a starting forward, and his most effective position in that front line would be as the center forward of the three-pronged attack.  With Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodríguez on either side of Villa, the Barcelona attacking machine will continue to operate as efficiently and dangerously as ever.

What does this mean for Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was supposed to be the answer in the center of Barcelona’s attack.  In order to lure the Swedish hitman from Inter Milan, the Catalunyans spent a net total of €69 million (€46 million in cash, the transfer of Samuel Eto’o from Barça to Inter, valued at €20 million, and another €3 million to compensate for Alyaksandr Hleb refusing the transfer to Inter).

Ibrahimovic had the qualities that Eto’o supposedly lacked: the ability to hold the ball up for his teammates, the acumen to visualize the perfect pass before the action occurs, and the size to better compete for headers and ward off physical challenges.  Even though Eto’o scored thirty goals and led the Pichichi race for top goalscorer most of the 2008-09 La Liga season until Diego Forlán surpassed him late in the season, the Barcelona staff felt they needed more from the center forward role than a pure poacher in the box, at which Eto’o was one of the best in the world.

Through the first few months of the season, Ibrahimovic made an immediate impact with the team, scoring in the first match of the season against Sporting Gijón, providing the only goal in El Clásico against Real Madrid in November after coming back from a hamstring injury, and netting twelve goals in his first nineteen matches in all competitions.

As the season wore on, however, his efficacy in front of goal dwindled considerably.  The match against Real Zaragoza in March clearly showed how his confidence had dropped, when he fluffed three chances that Ibrahimovic would score on his worst days.  He did score in that match but only because of a late penalty that Messi gave to him so that he could regain his confidence.

Aside from the first leg in the quarterfinals of the Champions League against Arsenal where he scored twice at the Emirates Stadium, he was noticeably absent both on and off the pitch in Barcelona’s most important matches.  Pep Guardiola lost so much faith in Ibrahimovic at the climax of the campaign that in both legs of the Champions League semifinal against his former team Inter Milan, Guardiola substituted him in both matches at the hour mark because of his ineffectiveness.  In La Liga, where Real Madrid kept the title race within three points until the final matchday, Guardiola favored Bojan Krkic over Ibrahimovic as the center forward.

Cumulatively, Ibrahimovic had twenty-one goals and ten assists in forty-one matches in all competitions, and while these are solid numbers for a player making his debut season in a new league and country, solid was not the expectation that the Blaugrana set for him.  Replacing a Barça legend in Samuel Eto’o would always become an arduous task, and the Barça boardroom sent a message to Ibrahimovic that he did not fulfill what they envisaged for him with the signing of David Villa.

As any good agent should do, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, tried to quell any sort of talk that the arrival of David Villa spelled the end for Ibrahimovic at the Camp Nou.  In an interview with Calciomercato.it, Raiola reiterated his client’s standing with FC Barcelona:

“The club already said they were happy with Zlatan.  Villa’s arrival has nothing to do with Ibra, and it does not put his stay in danger seeing that Villa can play well on the wings.  He has a contract until 2014, and he is happy at Barcelona.”

As optimistic as that sounds, it could mean trouble for Pedro, Bojan, Jeffrén Suárez, and others in La Masia if Barcelona plans to keep both Ibrahimovic and Villa, but with Pedro breaking through with an outstanding season and Bojan filling Ibrahimovic’s shoes at the end of the season, it is highly doubtful that Barcelona, and specifically Pep Guardiola, would stunt the development of their own academy products in favor of Ibrahimovic.

One year for any player should not become the absolute barometer for what that player will do in the future.  There is an endless amount of cases where players struggled in their first season only to recover and perform to their highest capabilities.  In this day of immediate gratification and astronomical transfer fees, however, instantaneous results matter, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not given Barcelona what they wanted.  If Barcelona did not make a move for Villa and Ibrahimovic was given a clean slate to go into his second season with Barcelona, a betting man would put his money on a highly successful season.

Barcelona is not a betting man and wanted reassurances with the signing of David Villa.  When Barcelona sells Ibrahimovic, they will not nearly receive the value that they paid for Ibra, but they will listen to any offers that come their way.

The last opinion that Barcelona would want of themselves is that they are acting like Real Madrid in buying top talent for exorbitant prices, so a rotation that would bench Villa and Ibrahimovic for certain matches would only further this growing perception that Barcelona is turning into their eternal rivals.

Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, and now Barcelona.  Four of the preeminent teams in European football, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could not establish a permanent home in any of those clubs.  If a club can solve the enigma that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he would become the most feared striker in the world.  If.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. micheal

    April 28, 2011 at 7:33 am

    i really like this team becos i want to play Barcelona one day

  2. Mammadzada

    November 16, 2010 at 3:08 am

    FCBarcelona 3 VS 1 real madrid ??????????????????

  3. obinna

    September 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    pls guardiola should not put macherano on any of first half,he should play substitute…after,if we’re winning with many goals.then valdles should go back to his drawing board….he have alot of lapses….he should be cautioned…bye

  4. reza118

    September 16, 2010 at 4:21 am

    david villa is the best!!!!

  5. hajj

    September 3, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    David Villa is one of the best signin barca have done this season.kudos 2 all the players and my man Messi

  6. brain

    August 25, 2010 at 7:41 am

    pls all barca fans both here and abroad to pls beg our wonderfull coach to pls not allowed ibra to go any where. i am smelling some graet about this guy in the next season which come just the way. ibra is a [player. he now understand the rythm of the game in barca. pls pep help me allowe ibra for one season, he will prove critics wrong.

    thanks

  7. Goutam Roy

    August 18, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Berselona is the best team of the world.

  8. MALAI SATI BKK

    August 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Pep. Why do you like playing with your fans emortion, we need goals always

  9. joshua

    July 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    i like David Villa and Lionel Messi

    • brain

      August 25, 2010 at 10:46 am

      pls like evry body in the squad most especially xavi he is the master of the game.

      thank you joshua

      barca for live

  10. Moh Fudli

    July 12, 2010 at 1:16 am

    sy sangat senang dan Bangga. sama David Villa. N Ineistha

  11. mehdi

    July 3, 2010 at 3:50 am

    zlatan should go from barca

    • brain

      August 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

      please we need him very well now, he shld no go, if there is any way you can communicate with pep, pls tell him of my opinion

      thank you mehdi

  12. karen

    July 2, 2010 at 5:11 am

    mmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  13. arbluan

    June 12, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    lionel messi

  14. Edon

    May 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    BARCELONA NEEDS A PLAYER LIKE LORIK CANA, HE IS A FANTASTIC PLAYER.
    BARCELONA YOU NEED THIS GUY, HE IS QUALITY, THE 1

  15. Kenndy

    May 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Te amo bar. No fundo do cora.

  16. Olujobi ebenezer

    May 25, 2010 at 5:56 am

    BARCA TILL I DIE,I WANT 2 THANK D BARCA PLAYERS 4 THERE WONDERFUL SEASON,AND WISH EVERY BARCA PLAYER GOING 2 SOUTH AFRICA BEST OF LUCK,4 DAVID VILLA SAY WELCOME,I JUST WANT 2 BEG MESSI TAKE IT EASY ON US(NIGERIA) IN SOUTH AFRICA,AND IBRA SHOULD EXERCISE PETIENT BRINGIN VILLA IS JUST 2 BOOST HIM UP.AND I WISH VILLA A WONDERFUL SEASON IN ADVANCE.

  17. brain

    May 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    pls allowed ibra and villa for one season, let see what happen next, bcos i no one day ibra will come back to his form. but don’t consider to pushed yaya away from barca he is a player both in the morning and the evening

    thank you david villa for accepting our offer pls we needs more goals, make the attacking front more dangeriuos with ur present. yes ibra is it time for u to proof read urself as a striker if you want to stay at barca. which i believe you can do it. hey BARCA IS THE LIONS DEN. PLS DON’T DARE FALL INTO IT

    MESSI COME OUT PROVE CRITICES WRONG IN THE WORLD BCOS THEY THING U CAN PERFORM IN BARCA WORLD BEST EVER TO EXSIT IN THIS PLANET EARTH.

    ARGENTINA v SPAIN FOR FINAL

    NO DOUDT

    • Dan

      July 15, 2010 at 12:40 am

      The critics are idiots concerning Messi. Every game I have watched has 11 players out there. Even with the loss to Germany, Messi was brilliant. He was feeding Higuan and the other guy on the right. They kept shooting from the corner with Tevez screaming for the cross. If Messi can’t play at the top level, then why did Germany put two and three people on him the whole game. Messi makes it look so easy and effortlessly. Another thing, every player is fast now. It’s not like when Pele, Maradona, Cruiff, and Greorge Best played. They were extremely fast while the midfielders were slow. Nowadays everyone is fast. Just ask any pro player or ex pro player.

      • Rami S.

        July 15, 2010 at 1:16 am

        Dan,

        Messi is regularly man-marked or in some cases has 2 or 3 players watching him. Unfortunately for him with Argentina he has no playmaking midfielders to help him.

        With Barca, he has Xavi and Iniesta, and those 2 make his job easier.

    • Alex

      July 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      Ha spain vs. netherlands

  18. Winifred W. massaquoi

    May 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I am a barca fan and I suggest that Zlatan Ibrahimovic should stay up to next season, from there barca will be able to decide his faith. He will surely produce believe me. he has the ability to improve.

  19. FC barcelona tickets

    May 21, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Excelent football player for FC Barcelona. Villa will make a lo of goals near MEssi and Xavi. Buy fc barcelona to enjoy it!

  20. shina

    May 21, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Guardiola pls leave yayatoure yayatoure is a good player

  21. Ri-Ann

    May 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Messi is a very wonderful player. he is the alhthough everyone says that its C.Ronaldo. i love BARCELONA and its sad that they didnt get in the finale

    • Rami S.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:02 am

      Ri-Ann

      Messi is currently the best in the world but for him to be considered as one of the best ever he ought to win the World Cup (if not in South Africa 2010, then in the future before he retires). Time is on Messi’s side by Maradona is not really a qualified coach.

  22. saeed

    May 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    i love messi

    • wale

      September 7, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      is the best player

  23. Rami S.

    May 20, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I followed Ibra with both Juve & Inter, and there is no doubt he is a talented player. He’s one of the best in terms of creativity and coming up with the incredible, but he has often lacked the efficiency in front of goal.
    He’s only been top scorer once in Serie A and that’s when his teammates were clearly looking for him to beat out D. Milito and he eventually did by a goal (if I am not mistaken).
    He’s a solid player, very talented but he also has a habit of disappearing in the big games. He rarely scored in the big matches (this season he managed to score the winner against R. Madrid).

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