Would signing Samuel Eto’o instead of Wayne Rooney make sense for Chelsea?

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Chelsea have recently been heavily linked with a move for Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o, given the financial problems facing his current club Anzhi in Russia. The former FC Barcelona and Inter Milan forward is now 32 years old but his goal scoring pedigree is undeniable, so would it make more sense for Chelsea to target him, rather than Wayne Rooney?

What can Eto’o bring to Chelsea?

Eto’o clearly has a world class record that few players can rival. Having won the Champions League on three different occasions he scored an incredible 44 goals in 100 European appearances as well as netting 220 goals in 401 domestic games for his respective clubs. His record in Russia is also pretty impressive with 25 goals in 51 league appearances. Many will argue (partially correctly) that the Russian league is of a lower standard, but he still did manage 9 in 16 in last season’s Europa League and there does seem to be life left in Eto’o, who is still a quality and intelligent footballer, despite having lost a bit of pace.

His best days are behind him but he would likely come to the club on a short term deal, with him providing enough experience to help Romelu Lukaku develop. Lukaku is a great prospect, but still raw, whereas Eto’o can provide proven track record and experience at every level of the game. Not only that but he can occupy one of the wide roles in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation. Despite being a striker he spent much of the Champions League campaign in 2010 as a winger, tracking back and working hard for his side whilst Diego Milito led the line up front. This makes him a very useful option for Mourinho, as Eto’o can provide him with a degree of tactical flexibility, playing off of Lukaku, or instead of him. If Chelsea had signed someone like Edison Cavani, he’d have started every game, massively restricting the chances for Lukaku to impress. Eto’o on the other hand is older and more tactically flexible meaning that he won’t necessarily restrict Lukaku’s chances.

Financial factors

One issue pointed at my some journalists is the fact that Eto’o is on a reported contract of over £200,000 per week, making him a very expensive signing, despite being available for a small £5 million transfer fee. There is little doubt that he’d have to take a wage cut if he joins Chelsea, as the club (no club’s in Europe) would be willing to match his high wages. That being said he’d surely be given a very short term contract by Chelsea, who are moving towards offering over 30 players just a one year deal.

This would make it a logical signing given that again Chelsea need to ensure Lukaku gets enough playing time, whilst also making sure that they’re well stocked up front with regards to their striking options. Failure to sign a forward would put a lot of pressure on Lukaku, who as of yet is still somewhat raw.

Conclusion

Samuel Eto’o may now be 32 years of age but he still has a lot to offer, despite having spent the last two seasons relatively out of sight for most football fans outside of Russia. The Cameroonian has a good goal scoring record and tactical awareness that he has displayed under Mourinho before, making it seem likely that he’d be a hit if he had the chance to work under the Portuguese manager once more. His salary would be very big, but so would Wayne Rooney’s, with the latter likely to want an incredibly long term deal. Eto’o, if signed on a one year deal would make sense given his tactical flexibility and goal scoring record. At the very least he will give Mourinho more options up top, whether or not he is able to provide a consistent goal threat for the club.

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