By Nana Frimpong
At age 32, Africa’s finest footballer ever is finally going to feature in the English Premier League, and at a club that has recently adopted a rather strict transfer policy of signing youth.
SET TO SHINE | Eto'o tipped to waltz into a guaranteed regular role at the Stamford Bridge
It might eventually not prove any lengthier than a simple one-year deal, but Samuel Eto'o Fils - four-time African Player of the Year and multiple European champion - is set to receive a sum of £7 million by the time his contract runs out. Calling it one last pay-day would not be describing it too wrongly, even if the quoted amount is a full £10 m less than what the Cameronian received at the club from which he has been purchased, Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala, which made him the world’s highest paid footballer.
A MAN WHO NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION
Eto’o’s reputation, of course, precedes him, and it is not as if Chelsea fans require any convincing of what he is
"Eto'o might have little left in him, being on the wrong side of 30, but Mourinho would be sure to squeeze all he can out of this top-class poacher who once remarkably finished in the top three of the Fifa Player of the Year awards"
worth, having themselves occasionally being hurt by the player’s undisputed quality while he played for Barcelona and Inter Milan. In 16 years playing in Europe, he has established himself as one of the world’s deadliest finishers. Few No.9s know the unwritten rules of the penalty box off-hand as Eto'o does. He thrives when propped up by a truly talented supporting cast - and indeed he has worked with an awful lot of such in his career, feeding expertly off creative sparks like Ronaldinho, Deco, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi (at Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (at Inter Milan) and Willian (at Anzhi) - and of these, Chelsea have a fine array.
A MOURINHO FAVORITE
The man who signed Eto'o for Chelsea, current Blues' boss Jose Mourinho, oversaw Eto'o’s last major streak of success and good form while both were in Italy. The pair enjoyed a fine working relationship that saw them forge their way together to an unprecedented treble of titles with Inter in season 2009-10. There, the Portuguese master unearthed a latent strength of Eto'o’s, the versatility that ensured he still managed to contribute plenty to the Nerazzuri's cause even in a situation where Argentine Diego Milito was the preferred centre-forward and Eto'o had to play mostly on the right flank.
The Cameroonian would almost certainly not have to deal with a similar situation at his new club. He is virtually going to waltz into a guaranteed regular role at the head of Chelsea's attack, for Mourinho did make it clear enough in his starting lineup for last Monday’s game at Manchester United that, among the striking arsenal at his disposal - stocked with the likes of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku - he regarded none worthy of the slot upfront that he dramatically offered to United's Wayne Rooney on the day with ever so little subtlety.
Eto'o might have little left in him, being on the wrong side of 30, but Mourinho would be sure to squeeze all he can out of this top-class poacher who once remarkably finished in the top three of the Fifa Player of the Year awards, a distinction only one member of Chelsea's current squad - Frank Lampard - can match. (The two legends actually shared the podium in Zurich that year, 2005, along with Ronaldinho, Eto'o's team-mate at the time).
Chelsea’s significantly thick African contingent would help hasten the striker’s acclimatisation to life in England, while teaming up with a familiar face in newly signed Willian would be massive for the player, and one is inclined to think Mourinho and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich were truly conscious of the latter fact when prying both away from Anzhi this week for a combined £33.7million.
PERFECT ON ALL FRONTS
Eto'o’s high work rate and stamina makes him ideal for English football, while his experience and incredible record in continental competition would render him priceless as Chelsea attempt to claim a second Champions League title in three years.
|Chelsea’s significantly thick African contingent would help hasten the striker’s acclimatisation to life in England, while teaming up with a familiar face in newly signed Willian would be massive for the player
MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
If the Stamford Bridge faithful loved Didier Drogba - another veritable African attacking predator and Chelsea's last great goal-getter - for his power and strength, they certainly would relish Eto'o’s stealth and beautiful predictability. For Eto'o, a spell in England would be quite a fitting way to round off a career well spent distinguishing himself in the big European circuit.
Without doubt, both club and player have a season of delights to look forward to.
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