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 inter.it 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.