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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 8 hours ago
Read
Aug 23, 2010

Milan chief Galliani claims Ibrahimovic talks

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has said that the club's negotiations to sign Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic are "officially open".

The arrival of David Villa at Camp Nou has led to sustained speculation regarding Ibrahimovic's future and the striker was left out of the Barcelona team that defeated Sevilla 4-0 at the weekend to claim the Spanish Super Cup.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola said following the Sevilla game: "It was a sporting decision, as was the case with the other players who didn't play."

While he scored 16 goals in 29 La Liga appearances last season following a lucrative move from Inter Milan, Ibrahimovic's form was somewhat inconsistent and he has been linked with a range of clubs throughout the summer, including Manchester City and Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic's agent said earlier on Monday that a move to Milan would be an "impossible operation", but Galliani has suggested otherwise and says he has arranged a meeting with the Barcelona hierarchy.

"The deal for Ibrahimovic is officially open," Galliani told Gazzetta dello Sport. "On Wednesday, I will meet Barcelona's president Sandro Rosell. It will be difficult and we have not yet spoken of the economic aspect."

Asked whether someone like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could form part of the deal, Galliani told ANSA: "We don't know. It's a deal which is all still to do. We haven't assumed anything. The deal is yet to be built."

It is expected that any deal will be a loan move rather than a permanent signing, given that just 12 months ago Barcelona paid Inter Milan £40 million and gave them Samuel Eto'o in part exchange when signing the Sweden international. His buyout clause is set at £216 million.

Prior to Galliani's statement, Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola appeared to rule out a move to San Siro for the 28-year-old.

"I believe it's an impossible operation," Raiola told Sky Italia. "Barcelona have made us understand that they don't want to sell. I have spoken with the club and Guardiola doesn't want to sell him.

"We are honoured by Milan's interest and that of many other clubs who want Zlatan. It makes us very happy to know that Berlusconi and Galliani respect him. But we need to see the reality and Zlatan in red and black is an impossible operation.

"I exclude it [a loan move]. He is not the kind of player who goes out on loan, but I exclude almost categorically that Ibrahimovic will leave Barcelona. Many teams want him and expect that he will be sold, but right now it's not like this. The coach commands and will absolutely not sell him.

"Zlatan is used to fighting for his place, there are no problems. Guardiola bought him a year ago for €70 million. He believes in him and won't let him leave after 12 months. He remains Barcelona's first striker.

"He is 99.9% staying in Catalonia. I don't hide the fact that he doesn't like being out of the team, then again we'll see what happens on September 1. But I repeat, Guardiola has decided not to sell him. But like Galliani said, we can dream!"

If he does move to Milan, Ibrahimovic will join a select group of individuals to have represented Italy's three biggest clubs - Inter, AC Milan and Juventus.

The Swede won three Serie A titles during his time at Inter and two at Juve, although the 2005 and 2006 Scudetti won in Turin were revoked as a result of the Calciopoli match-fixing case that resulted in Juve's demotion to the second tier of Italian football.

Given that he also won the second of two Eredivisie titles with Ajax in 2004, his impressive record means that the last time a club featuring Ibrahimovic did not finish top of the table was Ajax in 2003.

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