Transfer rumours persist amid Zlatan’s scoring binge

As rumours swirl regarding Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s possible transfer from Inter Milan, the head of the club said on Monday he can’t imagine his team without the star Swedish striker.

Transfer rumours persist amid Zlatan's scoring binge

Ibrahimovic scored two goals in Inter’s 3-0 win over Reggina on Sunday, taking his personal goals tally for the season to 19, as the Milan club moved seven points clear at the top of Serie A.

After his star performance, Ibrahimovic, who signed for Inter from Juventus in 2006, hinted that he may be considering a future away from the San Siro.

“I’m totally focused on winning the title but as for next season, we’ll see,” he said.

“I’m very happy to be at Inter but next year we’ll see.”

But Moratti said Monday: “I can’t imagine Inter without Ibrahimovic.

“But if that were to happen, it would not stop the club from carrying on.”

According to the Italian press, Ibrahimovic could be targeting a club which has more success in Europe. Inter have been eliminated in the last-16 stage of the Champions League three times in the last three seasons.

“And if Ibrahimovic leaves, and we win the Champions League? In life, we change and then afterwards we regret it,” said Moratti.

“He was only upset as I was after (elimination at the hands of) Manchester United (earlier this month). He has ambition but it’s not as easy as that to pick a team that, in one fell blow, can win the Champions League.

“In any case, it’s not a question of money or a problem of understanding with the team,” Moratti added.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho added: “Like all of us, he’s very disappointed about the Champions League elimination, but he has replied on the pitch, transforming his frustration into good performances.

“I’m not worried. (Being top of) the scorers list is an extra motivation for him and who knows if it will help him win the Silver Ball, seeing as the Golden one will go to Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi if they keep doing well in the Champions League.”

Asked if convincing a player to stay had ever happened to him before, Mourinho said: “Yes, with Deco. He wanted to leave Porto after the UEFA Cup victory but he stayed and we won the Champions League the following season. So he left Porto with an even better CV.”

Immediately after Ibrahimovic’s comments on Sunday, Mourinho reacted by suggesting that the Milan club would survive without the Swede.

“Ibrahimovic is a great player but no player is bigger than a club. He has become very important to Inter but certain clubs are bigger than any player or coach,” said the former Chelsea coach.


Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.