If you believe the Spanish press or Roysten Drenthe (I know, that’s foolish at the best of times, but humor me), then Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s rumored move from Internazionale to Real Madrid this summer is pretty much a done deal. The player himself has also intimated that his future may lie away from the San Siro, preferably in La Liga. But should that future be at the Santiago Bernabeu?
Let’s take a look at the upside and downside to Real Madrid’s rumoured move for Inter’s lethal striker.
The Upside of Ibra
He’s a goal scorer. Fifty-three goals in 85 games for Inter speaks for itself. This season, he’s racked up 21 goals and 7 assists in Serie A. That puts him equal top of the goal-scoring charts with Bologna’s Marco Di Vaio. Some of his goals have been blinders too, like that venomous free kick against Fiorentina at the San Siro in round 27, and his delicate chip from outside the box after escaping the attention of four defenders against Reggina a week later. They were truly beautiful goals.
He’s a player of undeniable talent. His foot skills, technique and ability to beat players off the dribble is world class. He’s deadly from dead balls, from range, in the box, in the air and from the penalty spot. Crucially, he also has that rare ability to change the course of a match off his own boot. ‘Ibracadabra’ has shown that time and again for Inter, inspiring them to what will surely be three league titles in succession.
He’s a player of the highest calibre and there is no reason to think that he wouldn’t perform as he has for Inter at Real. He may even perform better in Spain, given his technical quality.
The Downside of Ibra
His big problem has been transferring his brilliant, acrobatic, and at times, outrageous domestic displays into European competition. For a player of his ability, he’s been nothing short of a flop in the Champions League throughout his career to date. A single goal from eight appearances this year, and none in the knockout stages. Ever. This is surely a big downside for a team like Los Merengues, who value European success above all else.
Ibra won’t come cheap either. Fifty million euros plus a player looks the minimum. Whilst a deal involving Robben or possibly Van der Vaart could work, Madrid would be silly to give up talents such as Higuain or Huntelaar. These are the kids they should be building their next generation around. Kids who love the shirt and whose best days are still ahead of them.
Then there are his wages. He’s currently the highest paid player in world, taking home 9 million euros a year at Inter. Madrid would probably have to give him a raise for a deal to be struck.
And of course, there’s the man himself. The Swede has earned himself a reputation as having a questionable attitude at times, plus he’s seen by some as being a bit of a mercenary. Concerned more with how much he can get paid to play, rather than where he plays. This was highlighted during his days at Juventus. Instead of doing the classy and respectful thing and following the likes of Cannavarro, Thuram and Zambrotta out of Italy following Calciopoli, he went and signed a big money deal with one of Juve’s biggest rivals.
Do Real Madrid need Ibra?
Real Madrid’s strike force is already pretty decent. Raul, Huntelaar, Higuain, Van Nistelrooy…do they need another striker? Not really, and if they do, wouldn’t a proven Spanish goal machine like David Villa be a better choice? A dynamic attacking wide man, such as Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery, would also surely be a better investment.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a truly uniquely gifted player who could no doubt take Real back to the top in La Liga. But that’s not what Real Madrid need. They need someone who can take them back to the top in Europe. This is why they have been chasing Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka so incessantly. These players are proven winners on the biggest stage of all.
Ibra is not. And for all his flicks, tricks and goals, he may never will be.