Tuesday, July 27, 2010

27 July 2009 - The Great Striker Swap Of 2009

On 27 July 2009, Inter and Barcelona confirmed a transfer in which striker Zlatan Ibrahimović moved to Camp Nou in exchange for Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o, a season-long loan of midfielder Alexander Hleb, and €46 million.

With Eto'o valued at €20 million, the total value given for the Swedish striker was reported as €66 million, making him the third most expensive footballer in history, behind Zindine Zidane (€76 million in 2001) and Cristiano Ronaldo (€94 million in 2009), both of whom went to Real Madrid. After the deal was announced, Hleb refused to move to Inter, so Barcelona sent him on loan to Stuttgart and paid Inter an additional €3 million, raising the total value to €69 million.

The deal had been rumored for weeks, fueled primarily by Eto'o's reported dissatisfaction at Barça. With Eto'o unsettled, the Catalan side turned their eyes to Ibrahimović, who was coming off his best season ever. He had scored 25 goals in 35 league appearances for Inter, winning his third consecutive Scudetto. Eto'o had performed even better, however, scoring 36 goals in all competitions as Barça won a Spanish-record six trophies, including La Liga and the Champions League.

After the transfer, Eto'o again got the better of Ibrahimović, as Inter went on to win Serie A, the Coppa Italia, and the Champions League with a total of 16 goals from the Cameroon international, while Barcelona had to content themselves by winning La Liga and 10 goals from Ibrahimović in all competitions. Fatefully, the teams met three times in the Champions League, with Barça earning a win and a draw in the group stage, but getting eliminated by a 3-2 aggregate loss to Inter in the semi-finals.

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