Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has explained his reason for selling Zlatan Ibrahimovic, claiming the Swede wanted to join Barcelona.
Ibrahimovic has been Inter’s best player since joining the club in 2006 and many fans were dismayed that the Italian champions would let the top goalscorer in last season’s Serie A leave the club.
But in return Inter have signed Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, brought Alexander Hleb in on loan and scooped 50 million euros from Barca.
And Moratti insists that it was Ibrahimovic’s own wish to go.
“Several times over the last few months he expressed his desire to change clubs,” he told Monday’s Gazzetta dello Sport. “He wasn’t forced, he had said that he saw his career developping elsewhere. We’re talking about someone rather indifferent on a sentimental level, a professional.”
Last week Inter coach Jose Mourinho described this deal as the transfer of the summer, claiming that Eto’o is as good as Ibrahimovic and that the Italians had done well to bank so much money in the swap.
And Moratti claimed that he too was pleased with the deal.
“For Inter this is a positive affair, also from an economic perspective,” he said. “You have to bear in mind that Eto’o’s value as a player is not that of his low transfer value.”
Eto’o had only one year left on his Barca contract and the Catalans openly wanted rid of him, thus reducing greatly his market value. Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, was tied into a long-term deal at Inter, who did not want to sell him.
Having won four Serie A titles in a row, Inter are under pressure this season to produce the goods in Europe.
In the last three seasons they have crashed out in the first knock-out round and the Champions League has become something of an albatros around the club’s collective neck. Inter don’t seem capable of performing in Europe as they do at home and Moratti is aware of not allowing the quest for European glory to become a burden.
“I don’t want the Champions League to become an obsession. The championship is our primary goal and then we can tackle Europe with much courage,” he said. “I believe our team is as good as the others but if things go badly, we won’t shoot ourselves.”