EYE ON LA LIGA: Is Ibra finding price-tag too heavy to carry?

He arrived with much pomp but he’s finding it quite hard to live up to it, at least thus far. What else if not instant success would be expected from a player who arrived from Inter Milan in a deal that saw Samuel Eto’o move in the opposite direction in addition to £40million?

He arrived with much pomp but he’s finding it quite hard to live up to it, at least thus far. What else if not instant success would be expected from a player who arrived from Inter Milan in a deal that saw Samuel Eto’o move in the opposite direction in addition to £40million?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s (pic) mega money move from Italian champions to the champions of Spain and Europe was and is still well documented but the question that was asked when he moved and is still being asked remains unanswered. Is the Swedish international worthy £60 millions?

Is the Swede a better player than his African counterpart Eto’o? Can Ibrahimovic do what Eto’o did for Barcelona in the same period? Is he capable scoring deciding goals for the Catalan club that way of Eto’o? Was bought because he’s white and Eto’o is black? Will Barcelona get their value for money spent?

The 28-year-old continues to be completely overshadowed by Lionel Messi, who if he carries on with the current form and possibly help Barcelona retain the Champions League crown, will be odds on to retain his Fifa World Player of the Year title regardless of what Wayne Rooney does for Manchester United.

There were few doubts about his arrival when he joined Barcelona. Ibrahimovic was the perfect man, joining the perfect club, at the perfect moment. You could say.

Even his biggest detractors knew that he could be a very effective player in Guardiola’s model. His education at Ajax makes hit a perfect fit for Barcelona, he matured in the world of the Italian Serie A with Juventus and then Inter and, at 27, came to Spain at the age for a footballer to be at his peak.

A few months on, and despite an encouraging start to life at the Nou Camp, Ibrahimovic has started attracting criticism, including this column after scoring just four goals in his past 13 appearances.

He started the campaign in fine form following his big-money move, netting in each of his opening five La Liga games and boasting a tally of 12 goals from his first 18 appearances in La Liga and the Champions League.

However, he went on a long draught, which was coupled with injuries and that’s when the critics started doing what they tend to do best.

He got his name on the score-sheet in Sunday’s clash with Real Zaragoza, though, netting a late penalty in a 4-2 win, and he enjoyed more success Wednesday night with the opening goal in the 2-0 triumph over Osasuna.

On the pitch he appears anxious to score, has been put off balance by the aggressive attention he has received, which inevitably comes with his transfer fee. If you’ve watched him closely when playing, he’s even struggling to link up with his attacking partners.

He’s probably missed or wasted, whichever way you put it, more scoring chances than any other Barca striker, and yet his problems continue to be compounded by Messi’s excellent form, which has seen him net 34 goals 39 appearances and ten assists in all competitions this season. Ibrahimovic has scored 17 goals in 32 appearances.

One critic summed up Ibra’s blip with this statement, and I quote, “This is the Ibrahimovic way, of undulating form. A football player, who often promises more than he actually delivers; a luxurious restaurant of talent who sometimes serves up only the dish of the day”.

I never used to pay much attention to him while he was still in Italy but since moving to Barcelona and that fact that he cost £40 million plus Eto’o, a world class proven goal scorer, I have the chance to look at his game and I’ve come to see what his critics has point at as his major weakness.

He is a player who can struggle to read the situation and his decision making can also be suspect. He is at his best when high in confidence and is given the chance to show his physicality.

However, he’s one of those players, who can frustrate supporters because it can seem as though he is playing against the world.  His body language doesn’t give a good reading when things on the field are not going his way.

In the build up to last season’s Champions League clash between Inter Milan and Manchester United, the English press billed the battle between Ronaldo and the Swede as the “meeting of the best footballer in the world and the one who thinks he is”.

Ibra has the capacity to do great things, including scoring goal from all sorts of angles and positions, unfortunately he’s never fulfilled that potential that keeps dividing opinions. As a No.9 he will be judged by his goals, and that is well known. 

So, the longer the goals continue eluding him, the longer the debate as to whether indeed Ibrahimovic is worthy£40million plus three-time African player of the year Samuel Eto’o.

nku78@yahoo.com

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