Inter forward Samuel Eto’o has claimed that Lionel Messi attempted to persuade Pep Guardiola to retain the Cameroonian at Barcelona, despite the coach's insistence that Eto’o be sold.
The 29-year-old moved to the Nerazzurri in the summer of 2009 as part of the deal that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic switch to Camp Nou, and Guardiola’s belief that Eto’o was a disruptive influence in the dressing room was a pivotal factor in the decision to offload him to Serie A.
However, in a recent interview with French publication L’Equipe, Eto’o has defended his relationship with his team-mates, and even claimed he had the support of Messi when Guardiola decided that his time at the club was up.
He stated: “I’ve played and I have won with Ronaldinho, [Lionel] Messi, and with many great players. When Ronaldinho arrived at Barcelona, they did not win anything. After my arrival, we won it all.
“When [Pep] Guardiola wanted me out, Messi went to him and said: ‘Let whoever you want go, but not Samuel’. All my coaches will tell you that I am a great professional. I’ve been a role model in terms of discipline, and I have always been rigorous and professional.”
Upon moving to Italy, Eto’o won the treble of league title, domestic cup and Champions League with Inter, a year after achieving the same feat with Barcelona.