Samuel Eto’o: I joined Anzhi Makhachkala because their offer matched my talent & future of football is in Russia

The former Inter striker earns a reported £8.7 million a year and says he is inundated with phone calls from big-name players asking him about the league
Samuel Eto’o has defended his decision to move to Russia as he believes that the future of football lies in the country which will host the 2018 World Cup.

The 30-year-old left Inter in the summer for a reported fee of €28 million (£24.3m) to move to Anzhi Makhachkala, having won the Champions League, Serie A and domestic cups during his two-year stint at San Siro, where he scored 53 goals in 102 appearances for the club, including 37 in 53 games in the 2010-11 season.

His wage at cash-rich Anzhi is said to be £8.7m a year, leading to accusations that he only moved to Russia for the money.

But in an interview with CNN, Eto’o said he is not bothered with what other people think and that he is worth the money.

“I don't care what people think. I think all of us want to work and get paid what we are worth. Anzhi made an offer, which was at the same level as my talent, and they are paying me what they think I am worth,” he said.

“To be honest a year ago I had no idea I would be here. The opportunity hadn't arisen. But when the offer came in, I thought about it and realised that it was the best one for myself, my career and my family so I went for it.

“He [the chairman, Suleiman Kerimov] told me he wanted to build a big team and he had thought about me as someone who could lead that project. It touched me in my heart because I had only seen myself as a professional player, not a project leader, and this new challenge was important to me.

“I was offered a great deal and we reached an arrangement quite quickly.”

Recent reports have linked a number of high-profile players such as Robin van Persie with moves to Anzhi, with Fabio Capello also supposedly a managerial target.

Eto’o himself has been linked with a loan move back to Inter, but he believes the future of football will be in Russia and that more big-name players will continue to move there over time, joining the likes of Roberto Carlos and Yuri Zhirkov, who have also joined Anzhi this year.

“I am happy that more players are thinking about coming. Many of them are important players and they have been linked with clubs here,” he said.

“That is a big victory for Anzhi and the club is giving an opportunity for Russian football to attract stars.

“I have to tell you that practically every day I get a message or a phone call from a high-profile player who wonders whether there are opportunities to come here because the truth is the future of football is in Russia.

“Furthermore, I believe that leading up to the World Cup here in 2018, the quality of the league will be better.”

Eto’o also had kind words for former manager Jose Mourinho, who managed the striker to Champions League glory two years ago as Inter secured the treble, before moving on to Real Madrid last summer.

“Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers with whom I have worked. I had a chance not only to have him as a coach but as a colleague, a friend, a big brother,” he said.

“I had a chance to learn from him and he was open to receiving advice from me as well even though I think he knew it all.”

On his time so far in Russia, Eto’o, who has scored four goals for his new club, said it was nice to have experienced a different place to live and that whilst the money was important, the experience of a new country would help him in the future on a personal level.

“No-one wants to work for little money; otherwise they would be living on the streets,” he added.

“What I would like to say is that I am lucky to have gone places where I can learn new things in life and that is the case here. This experience will add something to my life and that makes me a better person.”

Samuel Eto’o was talking to CNN’s Pedro Pinto

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