On this day in 2009, Barcelona and Inter Milan agreed one of the greatest swap deals in footballing history which saw the Swedish sensation Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to Barcelona, while Samuel Eto’o travelled to Italy, joining Inter Milan. Barcelona also offered Alexander Hleb for a season-long loan, but the German international rather decided to make a move back to his former club VfB Stuttgart.
Zlatan underwent his medical on this date in 2009 and completed his €46 million move to Camp Nou. His total fee was touted to be around €66 million as Eto’o was valued at €20 million. The Swede reported cost the Catalan a total of €69.8 million (including other fees), making him the then third most expensive footballer in history, behind Zindine Zidane (€76 million in 2001) and Cristiano Ronaldo (€94 million in 2009).
Zlatan had just won three back to back Serie A titles with Milan, while Eto’o, on the other hand, was reportedly unhappy with the club, even after winning a treble (La Liga title, Copa Del Rey and the Champions League). Hence, with his departure looking certain, the Catalans decided to make a move for Zlatan.
The move worked wonders for the Cameroonian as he went on to win the second consecutive treble of his career, winning the Serie A medal, the Coppa Italia title and the Champions League. While Zlatan, on the other hand, won the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup soon after his arrival and also managed to win the La Liga crown.
The Swede’s Barcelona career ended on a sour as his relationship with Pep Guardiola didn’t take off as expected, and summarising his tenure with Guardiola, Zlatan said, “You bought a Ferrari, but you drive it like a Fiat.” Just a season later, he moved back to Italy, joining Inter’s fierce rivals AC Milan.