The proposal is a simple one. Roberto Mancini can swap one big striker for another. However, some logistics complicate matters quite a bit. Still, it is certainly worthwhile for Manchester City to explore whether or not they can swap promising Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko for Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Before Manchester City or AC Milan supporters remind themselves (or others) that such a deal has already been dismissed by all parties, let’s establish right away that all parties have, indeed, played down such a possibility.
A few days ago, Dzeko’s agent made it clear that the player is committed to being a part of City’s ambitious project, even if he has to battle the likes of Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, and Carlos Tevez for a starting berth in the club’s Premier League-winning squad.
As far as Ibrahimovic is concerned, he has consistently rubbished speculation linking him with a move away from Italian runners-up Milan, insisting that he is indebted to the club for helping him regain the love and passion for football that he had lost during a frustrating spell at Barcelona.
Still, if there was anyone counting on the status quo to change, Roberto Mancini’s recent comments in the Italian media further brought down the likelihood of Ibrahimovic’s frequently anticipated move to the English top flight.
“Ibrahimovic is a champion. But I already have four very strong strikers. I just need them to compete in the Champions League. We are okay up front,” Mancini was quoted.
Somehow, one feels that this is a swap that all parties should consider more seriously before writing it off with such ruthless aggression. After all, as Mancini pointed out, City now need to chase Champions League glory – a feat that Ibra has been chasing his entire career without fruition.
While Ibra’s hunger at this advanced stage of his career is a natural fit for City’s star-studded project, Dzeko is poised to offer an even better fit to Milan.
As one of Europe’s most successful clubs, the Rossoneri are secure enough to start rebuilding and the former Wolfsburg man would be the ideal young talent to build the future around.
Inevitably, despite their extensive resources, both clubs need to look at the financial aspect of such a swap before proceeding with the details. Luckily, the finances work out just about perfectly in this situation.
Ibrahimovic, 30, has three more years left on his contract and will be 33 by the time his current Milan deal expires at the end of the 2014-15 season. The 26-year old Dzeko has a contract at the Eastlands until the end of the same season, by which time he would be only 29.
Given that both players have plenty to offer, it is safe to assume that in case of such a swap, they will receive at least the same type of contract (if not better) at their potential new destinations.
In terms of getting used to their potential new surroundings, one wouldn’t imagine too much difficulty either. Ibrahimovic worked for several successful years with Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan and his arrival at City can allow the duo to strike yet another powerful partnership.
Ibra’s years of experience would also likely be beneficial for City’s youthful strike force, setting an example for the ambitious Sergio Aguero and keeping the temperamental Tevez and Balotelli on their toes.
For Dzeko, the move would represent a childhood dream come true. The striker has consistently maintained that Milan have always been his favorite club and growing up, he aspired to leave the sort of impact that Andriy Shevchenko did during his first spell at the San Siro.
To reiterate, the Dzeko-Ibra swap comes with apprehensions that neither City nor Milan can overlook. For starters, let’s examine the playing styles of each player.
Ibrahimovic performed respectably during his lone season at Barca but the results were nowhere close to the type of excellence he has achieved in Italy. That reality often serves as a reminder that perhaps the Swede’s skill-set is best for the Serie A.
Whenever he is on the pitch during an Italian top flight match, Ibra threatens to score frequently over the course of 90 minutes but in Champions League matches, his pedigree looks significantly less severe.
The man has received his fair share of criticism for struggles against non-Italian opponents and even with a familiar face like Mancini at the helm, there is no guarantee that Ibra can deliver the sort of goods in England that he has in Italy.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Ibra likes to take his time controlling the ball – or latching on to it – before unleashing his vicious shot; the Serie A’s slow pace naturally provides him plenty of opportunity to do so.
In England, tackles arrive quicker and stronger, which could force someone with Ibra’s mindset to play differently from his natural preference. Of course, a player of his caliber can adjust successfully, but again, is it worth giving up a proven Premier League striker like Dzeko? That’s dubious, to say the least.
Now, some may point out that Dzeko has not exactly been a blockbuster success at the Etihad Stadium either. So how does a striker struggling for playing time preventing the Citizens from going in pursuit of a world-class scorer?
Well, Dzeko is much younger and in addition to carrying tons of potential, he brings a winning mentality to the table. He guided Wolfsburg to Bundesliga glory when they were huge underdogs and he has already won the two biggest prizes in English football – the FA Cup and the Premier League winners’ medal.
The man has not even completed two seasons with the club and yet, such has been his impact. For those who felt that he may not get much credit for City’s title triumph, he ensured that he had the last laugh when he came off the bench to score the invaluable equalizer against QPR on the final match-day.
These are intangible moments that make the player invaluable to a fan base that has always been firmly behind him to begin with. And it’s easy to see why.
In essence, Dzeko is a clinical finisher with impressive size, good mobility, and a strong knack for excelling in the fast, physical Premier League landscape. That sounds like a replica of Ibrahimovic, except better suited for the English top flight.
All things considered, it is not mission critical for either Manchester City or AC Milan to proceed with the Dzeko-Ibrahimovic swap. Both teams have strong reliable players at their disposal already so protecting the status quo may turn out to be the right move.
But considering the direction that both clubs want to take for the future, it may just be the best decision both teams make this summer if they do, indeed, decide to proceed with such a deal. The numbers don’t lie: the assets of both sides would be exchanged equally to establish an exchange that could do wonders for all involved.
Does the Dzeko for Ibra swap make sense to you? Do you think there is even a slight possibility of City and Milan discussing such a deal? Have your say below!