Zlatan closes in on Barca transfer: report

Star Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be headed to Barcelona on a transfer from Inter Milan, according to Spanish media reports.

Zlatan closes in on Barca transfer: report
Zlatan celebrates a goal against Lazio in May 2009

The deal appeared closer to being finalized after Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti admitted he was in talks with the Spaniards about the Swede.

While woudl head from Inter to Barcelona, Cameroon forward Samuel Eto’o could be heading in the opposite direction while Brazil full-back Maxwell and Belarus winger Alexander Hleb could also switch between the two.

Moratti confirmed in comments made to the website on Friday that “we are trying to conclude for Hleb, and we obviously talked about other things because for them it was interesting to know something about Ibrahimovic”.

“We also spoke about Eto’o to understand if it’s possible to do a deal with these two players. But this meeting was something between two presidents to understand if there are other possibilities to work together.”

Moratti insisted that any deal involving Ibrahimovic would necessitate the transfer of Eto’o.

“If an operation of this kind was carried out, it would regard both players,” the Inter president said.

Late on Friday, Moratti reiterated a deal was in the works.

“We’ve finalized a transfer for Maxwell and now we’re trying to do likewise for Hleb,” Moratti told Sky Sport 24.

“Obviously we spoke about other things because they were interested in knowing something about Ibrahimovic and talking about Eto’o — two players of the same level — to see if it would be possible to do something with these two players.”

Moratti also confirmed reports in both the Spanish and Italian press that the swap would include hefty compensation for the Italians.

“Eto’o is not worth as much as Ibrahimovic but there is a big offer there,” he added.

Spanish dailies AS and Marca, as well as Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, said the deal would be worth €40 million ($56 million) to Inter.

Spanish radio station Cadena SER added that the transfer could be nailed down in the coming 72 hours following talks on Thursday in Milan between Barca president Joan Laporta and Moratti.

Ibrahimovic, who has been with Inter since 2004, is considered one of the best strikers in European football but has hinted on several occasions that he was ready for a move to Spain from Italy while Barca have long made it clear they want to be shot of Eto’o.

Maxwell, meanwhile, fell out of favour with Inter boss Jose Mourinho last season and was replaced in the starting line-up by teenager Davide Santon.

That led to the Brazilian publically stating he wanted to leave, while Hleb failed to make an impact in Catalonia following a transfer from Arsenal a year ago.

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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.