Ibrahimovic finally signs ‘dream’ contract with Barcelona

Swedish star footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he is finally "living a dream" upon signing a five-year contract with Barcelona on Monday.

Ibrahimovic finally signs 'dream' contract with Barcelona

The 27-year-old was transferred from Inter Milan in a deal which will also see Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o move the other way and the Italian side receive €46 million ($65 million) as well as Alexander Hleb on loan.

“It feels like I’m living a dream now,” Ibrahimovic told a news conference.

“It was not easy for me in the last weeks.”

He said he had always insisted that “only one club can buy me and that is Barcelona… My will to come to Barcelona was too big for staying in Inter Milan.”

“It is a big honour. There are many big clubs but there is only one special club,” he said, adding that he hoped to develop his skills playing with such players as Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez.

“I come here to bring something new. I’m here to win and I’ll do my best to win,” he said.

Ibrahimovic will on Tuesday undergo an operation on a broken bone in his hand, suffered during a friendly between Inter and Chelsea during the club’s US tour, Barca’s technical director Txiki Begiristain said.

Wearing the “number 9” shirt formerly held by Eto’o, he later received a rapturous welcome before more than 50,000 fans at the Camp Nou stadium.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has said Ibrahimovic won’t be the club’s last major signing before the end of the transfer window.

And he has warned big-spending rivals Real Madrid that his side won’t give up their reign as European and Spanish champions without a fight.

Real have spent at least €209 million this summer on Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Albiol and Karim Benzema during the close season.

Barcelona beat holders Manchester United to win their third Champions League crown in May in Rome. The club also won the domestic league and cup last season, making them the first Spanish team to win the treble.

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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.