COS columnist Lord of the Foot takes a look at the relationship between a Nou Camp superpower and a player who was a square peg forced into a round hole.
Now that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s loan to AC Milan is complete, and a permanent transfer expected at the end of the season, it’s time to bid good riddance to the tall, gangly striker. His stay at Barcelona was untenable. Quite frankly, his presence on the team was a crock from day 1, as the €45 million spent represented 45 million reasons Barcelona wanted Samuel Eto’o out the door, rather than the Swede coming to Catalunya.
Putting a square peg in a round hole. Or at least that was the idea. Zlatan would be the “plan B” Barcelona never had -an alternative to abandon the neat and tidy tiki-taka for an occasional long ball or service into the box. A target man who towered above Guardiola’s other vertically challenged options up front, and could thrive with his back to goal.
However, it was doomed from the start. Yes he scored a handful of goals, including a cracking winner against Real Madrid, but he disappeared after the winter break. Awareness, movement, grit, and determination embody everything about a modern day Barcelona player, and everything Zlatan does not. He gradually removed himself from the ebb and flow of matches, until a comfy warm seat on the bench allowed him complete and uninterrupted relaxation.
To be fair, Ibrahimovic is arguably the most technically gifted striker on the planet. He can work magic with the ball that you would only expect from a Brazilian. Unfortunately, such praise throughout his career has over-inflated his ego. He has created an attitude that rejects and slanders anyone who believes his abilities are ineffective.
“The ‘philosopher’ has kicked me out,” Ibra remarked to the press.
Newsflash Zlatan: this ‘philosopher’ you so tastelessly mock has revolutionized football by perfecting a style of play which brought eight trophies to Barcelona in only two years. You’ve done nothing but complain and embarrass yourself in the process. Guardiola gave you a chance and you failed. At least try and show some class.