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Ibrahimovic leaves Barcelona for Milan

Swedish star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to complete a €24 million move to Italian giants AC Milan after a single season with Spanish champions Barcelona.

Ibrahimovic leaves Barcelona for Milan

The former Juventus and Inter Milan striker will join initially on a year-long loan before signing a permanent deal at the end of the season.

He is due to undergo a medical on Monday, after which he will sign a four-year contract.

“I’m delighted that everything has been resolved for the best, even if the situation was not easy,” said Ibrahimovic.

“Now I will return to Milan but for a different team to Inter; things are going forwards.

“Milan are one of the best teams in the world because of their team and their tradition. With (Alexandre) Pato and Ronaldinho we have a fantastic strike-force, now it’s down to us.

“I think Milan’s fans will have fun in the stadium with us three.”

Ibrahimovic, who was a fan favourite at Inter, brushed off talk about any ill-will their fans might harbour towards him.

“I don’t think they will think about me, given they won everything,” he said, referring to Inter’s treble triumph last season.

“This situation, which was created at Barcelona, has given me a lot of adrenaline and now my dream is to win everything with Milan.”

Ibrahimovic was Barca’s marquee signing a year ago but was considered a disappointment in his first season in Spain and essentially became surplus to requirements in Catalunya following the €40 million acquisition of Spain forward David Villa from Valencia.

The deal is a real coup for cash-strapped Milan, who earlier this month entered into a complicated loan deal with Genoa to land Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, who had been in Barcelona since Wednesday to try to find an agreement, explained how the deal works.

“We’ve come to an agreement with Barcelona for the loan with the right to buy for €24 million, which will be paid in three €8 million payments over the next three seasons (after this one),” he said.

“Ibrahimovic will sign a four-year deal which will be ratified after his medical on Monday.

“We will unveil him after he has come back from international duty.”

Milan also signed Boateng on loan because they do not currently have the funds to buy players.

Boateng was bought by Genoa from Portsmouth for €6.5 million and immediately loaned to Milan, who will sign him in a year, at a profit for Genoa.

Ibrahimovic becomes one of a small number of players to have played for Italy’s big three teams.

He spent two seasons at Juventus, having joined from Ajax, before going on to grace the black and blue shirt of Inter for three years, winning the title in every season.

He was sold to Barcelona a year ago for €46 million plus Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o, in a transfer that put the Swede’s value at around €69 million.

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FOOTBALL

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.

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