COS contributor Josh Dean examines the impact, or lack thereof, made by the giant Swede.
As a Barcelona supporter while I was upset to see Eto’o leave I couldn’t wait to see Ibra lead the line. I thought he would be perfect for the system, as he possesses more vision and creativity than Eto’o, but I was horribly wrong.
My first complaint against Ibrahimovic is his lack of mobility. It seems when he is on the pitch he clogs up the middle and rarely will swing out left or right and give Lionel Messi the room to attack down the middle. This is a simple explanation to how Messi netted four against the Gunners in the Champions League, two against Stuttgart, and hat tricks against Valencia and Tenerife, all in which the magnificent nose did not feature. The fact of the matter is Lionel Messi didn’t change from his new-central-roaming position, but that Bojan was up top instead of Ibra, and Bojan seems to make his way out left or right more than Ibrahimovic. 10 out of Lionel Messi’s 29 goals in La Liga came when Ibrahimovic was not utilized by Guardiola, when Ibrahimovic has only not been featured 8 times, meaning Messi averages over a goal a game with the likes of Bojan rather than Ibra.
Not only that, but as of now, Eto’o will have scored twice as much as Zlatan, while allowing Messi to contribute enough to be named Player of the Year. His mobility from side to side as well as his runs behind the defense clearly fit the system more than Zlatan’s target play. It also allowed for Xavi to find more of his signature through passes to be named Midfielder of the Year last year. Meanwhile, Bojan is hitting form, scoring four in his last four starts, and two off the bench in between. I have to wonder if he had been given more time in the beginning of the year if Barcelona could have scored as much as last year, although they are level on points from their last term.
Lastly, the big question is what will happen next season? With David Villa looking to come in, and young Bojan on his way out, it looks as if Ibrahimovic will be out a starting spot. Irrelevant to whether Guardiola keeps up his new 4-2-3-1 or his old 4-3-3, the one position Ibra can play will be occupied by arguably the most prolific goal scorer in the world, who will keep up the runs like Eto’o and score the goals like Eto’o, although I think he is even a step up from the Cameroonian international. Could Ibra swing out right, possibly, although it will be hard to take a spot away from the record-breaker Pedro, while possibily Cesc Fabregas could be looking for a spot as well. What will happen to Barcelona’s record signing? If you ask me, back to Italy. AC Milan. Outside chance of Mancini scooping him up if Tevez is off to the Bernebeu.