BARCELONA - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has said his decision to let striker Samuel Eto'o go was motivated by a feeling that is was time for a change and was not made for sporting or personal reasons. The Spanish and European champions said on Friday they had agreed in principle with Inter Milan to swap Eto'o plus cash for Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the conclusion of the deal depended on the players agreeing personal terms. "It's simply a matter of feeling. I think we have to change things," Guardiola told reporters on Monday, adding that it was his decision alone not to include the Cameroon international in his plans. "It had nothing to do with football strategy or any personal issue or attitude," he added. "Maybe I am wrong but it's my responsibility. It's my decision." Guardiola thanked Eto'o for his service over the past five years and said he had been a key part of the Catalan club's unprecedented treble last season of domestic league and cup and European Champions League. Eto'o's agent is due in Milan for talks and Inter president Massimo Moratti expects a deal to be reached after accepting that Sweden's Ibrahimovic wants a new challenge. "Negotiations continue, nothing is definite but I am confident. We hope to be able to bring another champion to Inter and despite the words of Guardiola, we are convinced of his worth," Moratti told reporters. "Ibrahimovic is a great professional and I can not forget that thanks to his goals we won scudettos (Italian championships)." Barca are not just settling for Ibrahimovic, who has also yet to sign a deal with the Catalans. Guardiola said he had spoken to Valencia striker David Villa, who the club have also been chasing, but gave no details about their conversation. He added that defenders Carles Puyol and Rafael Marquez would be extending their contracts and Mexican international Marquez was recovering well from a knee injury.
20 July 2009
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