'I made Barca win under Pep, not Messi' - Eto'o takes swipe at former Camp Nou coach

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Samuel Eto'o insists that he was the driving force behind Barcelona's treble-winning success in Pep Guardiola's first year in charge, ahead of Lionel Messi.

The Blaugrana won the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey during the 2008-09 campaign, with a star-studded team which is widely revered as one of the greatest in history.

Eto'o, Thierry Henry and Messi completed a holy trinity in attack for Barca, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi pulling the strings in midfield and Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol marshalling the defence.

Guardiola introduced his "Tika-Taka" system to the world in his debut season as a manager, kick-starting his career as a master tactician capable of maximising the output of the world's most talented players.

Eto'o endured a frustrating year under the tutelage of the Spaniard, despite finishing as the club's top scorer with 30 La Liga goals to his name.

He also grabbed the opener in a 2-0 European Cup final victory against Manchester United, but he never saw eye to eye with Guardiola, who had begun to build his team around Messi.

While reminiscing on his time working with the now-Manchester City boss, Eto'o recalls proving him wrong with his match-winning performances which ultimately led to the team to glory.

"Pep has lived his whole life in Barcelona, but in the years I spent in Barcelona, he didn't understand the squad. He didn't live the life of our group," Eto'o told beIN Sport.

"I said to Guardiola, you'll apologise to me, because it's me that will make Barcelona win, it's not Messi.

“It was the situation back then. Messi would come later, but you can ask Xavi, Iniesta and others, that was my era.

“It was me that made Barca win, and Pep would ask me for forgiveness."


Guardiola decided to offload Eto'o in the summer of 2009, brokering a swap deal which saw him join Inter Milan while Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at Camp Nou.

The ex-Cameroon forward enjoyed great success at the San Siro, scoring 53 goals in 89 games and winning a second successive treble under the guidance of Jose Mourinho.

Eto'o described the move as the "best deal in football history", after revealing that Guardiola forced him out of the Barcelona squad.

“My lawyer at the time told me that the club had put me up for sale on the transfer market," he added.

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"I said really? He said yes, at Guardiola's request.

"It's clear today, that move, and the opportunity that Pep gave me has gone down in history because it permitted me to be an even bigger part of football history by going to Inter. He allowed Inter to strike the best deal in football history."

Eto'o went on to play for Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and at 38 years old, he is currently enjoying a stint with Qatar SC, where he has netted five goals in his last 16 appearances.