Arsenal Transfer Analysis: Samuel Eto’o
30, Striker, Internazionale
With Inter looking at Gaël Clichy and Samir Nasri, and Arsenal seemingly still hunting for a top class forward – not to mention Samuel Eto’o now considering a move to the Premier League – it did not take a world class bit of journalism to draw a link between the needing club and a keen player.
Eto’o first came to my attention in 2001 when Arsenal played against Real Mallorca away. Ashley Cole gave a penalty and got sent off, whilst Thierry Henry was booked for diving on a miserable European night. However, it was the power and potential of a young Cameroonian that caught my eye.
Since that night, Eto’o has evolved into a world beater. Eto’o is also what Arsenal need; a striker of experience, speed, technique, aggession, hunger who dominates the box with fast short diagonal sprints to test goalkeepers. Fàbregas, Wilshere and Nasri (provided all stay) would be playing alongside a player whom even they might first want an autograph from. He is a world class name and recently called the best African football player ever. Eto’o, unlike Jermain Defoe (a poor alternative) has the skill and touch for European games, with the raw strength and bravery for the Premier League. Few players have the attributes to fit into almost any formation or any league.
There has not been a better, more consistent, harder working big game striker in the last 8 years. He was absolutely electric in the ‘holy trinity’ of Barcelona’s attacking triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o. At the San Siro, he ran the channels then launched and finished countless counter attacks for Jose Mourinho on the flanks in a 4-3-3 having made room for the bulkier Diego Milito. Following that fruitful season, he was the stand out performer in an all-of-a-sudden ageing Rafa Benitez team that appeared to have been figured out by the opposition as lacking power and stamina. Regardless, Eto’o lead the line in the central striking position of a 4-3-3.
Samuel Eto’o has had a big personality for years, and if Alex Song and his national team captain do not get on (as has been reported at the recent Cameroon meet up); there will be blame on both sides. Eto’o was labelled with being one of the bitter, poisonous personalities that began to typify associations with the Catalan club in the latter part of Frank Rijkaard’s rein. Bartolome Terrassa, a television journalist, filed a complaint after a run-in with Eto’o in the Real Mallorca parking lot, accusing the him of saying, “The next time, you are not going to escape; I’m going to kill you.” Even more concerning is a prior allegation from Eto’o's former agent, Daniel Argibeaut, that the Cameroonian had assaulted him with four accomplices. Argibeaut claimed “They took off my shoes, which in Cameroon means I am threatened with death.”
In spite of the baggage he brings, Barcelona undervalued him catastrophically to release him to Internazionale for Zlatan Ibrahimović plus €48 million – especially after 108 goals in 145 matches. Who is to say that the profligate use of funds handed out in that deal (and that of Dmytro Chygrynsky) are not a part of the reason Barcelona cannot afford Francesc Fàbregas. Ironically Fàbregas said three seasons ago Eto’o was his dream signing for Arsenal. Has he ever asked Wenger to sign him? I would not be surprised.
I wish Fabregas managed to persuade Wenger and the Arsenal board to find the cash, especially after he broke Arsenal hearts in the Champions League final in Paris six years ago. During that game he drew the challenge that got Jens Lehmann sent off and then scored the offside goal against Manuel Almunia at the near post to equalize.
With his big talent and ego, Eto’o also has a huge yearly club salary. According to Forbes, Samuel Eto’o earned €15m between May 2010 and May 2011 by Inter, making him the 10th highest paid player in world football. In short, Arsenal would have to absolutely rip their salary structure to shreds to sign him. He earns comfortably more than our captain. Combined with an estimated €20-25m fee to sign a 30 year old, I feel this deal is an obvious no-go.
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