Is Samuel Eto'o the answer to Chelsea's striking woes?

Shikharr Chandra weighs the pros and cons of signing Anzhi striker Samuel Eto'o..
 Shikharr Chandra
 COMMENT | Premier League
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Chelsea's striking woes are no secret. Since the departure of Didier Drogba, Chelsea have failed to find a striker capable of scoring on a regular basis.

Fernando Torres of whom big things were expected ever since his big money move from Liverpool, has only brought disappointment. Although there seems to be a new found confidence among the fans that new manager Jose Mourinho can get the forward back to his best, the club cannot rely on the Spaniard.

Demba Ba on the other hand looks set to begin his first full season with the Europa League champions after an average first six months. Bought as a replacement for Daniel Sturridge in the January transfer window, the Senegalese has hardly shown the kind of form needed to take over the top spot.

Romelu Lukaku makes a far stronger case than the aforementioned strikers. The young Belgian comes back from an excellent loan spell with West Bromwich Albion and was an impressive figure in the pre season tour as well. The 20 year-old finished as the top scorer amongst the three forwards in the team and saw some regular game time as well.

Despite his impressive performance last season, starting with Lukaku on a regular basis may be a huge risk. The forward is still inexperienced and raw and although he seems to be a better option than Torres and Ba for now, over-reliance on the youngster could backfire.

Chelsea have been linked to a host of strikers in the past two years with the likes of Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani, Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez being associated with a move to Stamford Bridge but so far the club has failed to land any of its targets.

Amidst all that, Mourinho has landed his former Inter Milan player, Samuel Eto'o.

Anzhi Makhachkala like Chelsea were transformed with the inflow of huge cash by Russian owner Suleiman Kerimov but unlike his counterpart at Chelsea who completed a decade at the club last month, the former looks set to leave the club after a huge meltdown.

The club have already seen the departure of two managers, Guus Hiddink and Rene Meulensteen and Anzhi are heading towards a disastrous breakdown, a breakdown that has already proved beneficial for Chelsea who have been on hand to snap up Willian and now Eto'o.

Samuel Eto's record at Anzhi
Games started: 16
Goals: 8

Games: 28
Goals: 16
Assists: 1

Games: 4
Goals: 2

Manchester United's determination to keep Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford for the coming season, prompted Mourinho to turn to Eto'o.

The decision to sign Eto'o seems to be a logical one given that they are short on quality center forwards who can operate well in tight spaces.

Chelsea tried to sign the player back when he was at Barcelona, a pursuit that would eventually fail as the Catalans weren't interested in selling him at the time. The Blues signed Andriy Shevchenko instead, a move Mourinho went onto describe as a panic buy.

“We wanted Eto’o. Mr Abramovich did everything to bring him [here] and Peter Kenyon did everything to bring him [here]. In the end, Barcelona said they didn’t want to sell, forget it. One more zero, one less zero, forget it… After that we went to other options and it became the Shevchenko option.”

Mourinho finally got his man when he joined Inter Milan. The former Chelsea boss snapped up the Cameroon forward who was close to joining Manchester City. At the time he revealed in his biography that it was Mourinho who made him change his mind. And on hearing the rumours linking him with a move back to Mourinho this time around, Eto’o sounded ecstatic.

“There is only one José Mourinho,” he said. “I have played under a lot of great coaches – but there is no other character like José. He is one of the best coaches in the world – and we had a lot of success together at Inter Milan. I would like to have the chance to play under him again because it is never boring when José is around. Chelsea are a great team. When we have all the offers on the table then I will discuss with my agent and see what my next step is.” 

Eto'o was part of the historic Barcelona side that lifted the treble in 2008-09 season. He scored more than 100 goals during his time with the La Liga giants and continued his excellent form when he joined Inter Milan in 2009-10. He became the only player to have won two consecutive treble's when he achieved the feat with Inter in his very first season.

Known for his pace and exquisite finishing, Eto'o can easily grab the center forward role ahead of the likes of Lukaku and Torres. The Cameroon forward has only signed a one-year deal and his short stint at the club can help Lukaku develop without casting a shadow over him.

However, his age is still a concern and the his form has been in decline ever since his move to Anzhi. Although he has a decent goal ratio this season, his tally of 20 goals in the last two campaigns along with only one assist is not something that has impressed many.

At Chelsea along with scoring goals, the striker needs to link-up and be creative as well. The attacking trio of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar love working in space and although Torres has failed to score on a regular basis his movement has helped the side on numerous occassions.

Only time will tell if the deal proves successful but in Eto'o, Chelsea have landed a striker who might just have one more season in him to compete at the highest level.


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