Wed, Jul 29, 2009 - Page 19 News List

SOCCER: Ibrahimovic and Eto’o in Inter-Barca swap

REUTERS , MADRID

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved to Barcelona from Inter Milan and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o went the other way on Monday in a swap deal worth more than 66 million euros (US$94.14 million).

The two forwards signed five-year contracts, both clubs said in statements.

With Eto’o being valued at 20 million euros, Barcelona announced they were paying a separate 46 million euro fee and loaning Belarus midfielder Aleksandr Hleb to Inter for the season.

Italian champions Inter, who have yet to confirm Hleb’s arrival, will have the chance to buy the former Arsenal player for 10 million euros plus variables next year.

Barca added that Ibrahimovic, 27, needs immediate surgery on a bone fracture in his left hand.

“I’m not coming as a substitute for Eto’o because I am a very different player. I come to bring something new,” Ibrahimovic told a news conference that had been delayed more than an hour due to a last-minute complication with the deal. “No one knows this but months ago I told [Inter president Massimo] Moratti I wanted to play for Barca. I told him there was only one team who would be able to buy me. There are many great clubs, but only one like Barcelona.”

Ibrahimovic passed a medical earlier in the day, though doctors detected the bone fracture in his left hand, picked up during Inter’s recent friendly against Chelsea. He was undergo surgery yesterday to fix the problem.

“The idea is that the player travels with us to the United States [on Wednesday],” sports director Txiki Begiristain said.

“We hope he might be able to play some minutes in the Hans Gamper Trophy [against Manchester City on Aug. 19] and that he will be fully recovered for the return leg of the Spanish Super Cup [against Athletic Bilbao on Aug 23]. We don’t want him to start playing here in pain.”

Ibrahimovic was presented with the number nine shirt and was welcomed by more than 50,000 fans on the Nou Camp pitch.

Eto’o flew to Milan earlier in the day before passing a medical. He was to be unveiled at a news ­conference at Inter’s training ground at 12:30pm GMT on yesterday.

The 28-year-old told the Inter Website (www.inter.it): “I made history at Barcelona, but that history is finished now. A new story begins at Inter. I’m starting from scratch, I want a new adventure and I hope everything goes well.”

Ibrahimovic will slot in alongside Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi in the heart of Barca’s three-pronged attack, and will be out to help them defend their European, and domestic league and cup titles.

Last term’s Serie A top scorer is Barca’s third close-season signing after Inter’s Brazilian left back Maxwell and Brazilian striker Keirrison, though the latter is to be sent out on loan.

Eto’o will play upfront alongside fellow new signing Diego Milito, who joined Inter from Genoa.

Jose Mourinho’s side have also brought in Brazilian midfielder Thiago Motta from Genoa and defender Lucio from Bayern Munich as they bid to end their poor European form.

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