As the transfer window moves into its final few days of operation, Roberto Martinez and Everton have managed to sign the former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan star, Samuel Eto’o. The forward also played for Chelsea last season, but he will be representing the blue half of Merseyside, rather than London, this year.
The signing of Eto’o represents a real coup for the Toffees. Firstly, the club have managed to land one of the most decorated players in world football as a free agent. True, the forward is likely receiving a considerable wage bill, but his shortened two year deal ensures that the financial gamble is at least fairly controlled. And, having spent big on Romelu Lukaku already, the avoidance of a hefty transfer fee can only be seen as a good thing.
The signing makes more than just economic sense, however, as Everton look to have landed a player of real class. Eto’o’s job is to score goals, and he carries out his job very effectively everywhere he goes. For Mallorca he scored 69 times in 165 appearances as a youngster, for Barcelona he netted 129 times in 201 games, for Inter 53 times in 101 games, and for Chelsea 12 in 34. Sure, last season was his least prolific, but Eto’o proved that he was hardly over the hill.
Furthermore, Eto’o brings more than just a striker’s instinct to Goodison Park this season. He also brings a knowledge of how to win, and an almost unrivalled experience of big match football. The man has won 3 Champions Leagues, 3 La Ligas and 1 Serie A championship. With a host of domestic trophies to his name as well, this is a player who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the rest of the wardrobe.
At Everton there are plenty of young stars emerging through the ranks, and the presence of Eto’o within their dressing room will give the likes of Ross Barkley, John Stones, and even the likes of Seamus Coleman and Lukaku, something to aim for. The striker will not be the main attraction at Goodison Park, but he will have a very important role to perform on the training field, as well as on the field of play.
Many will point to Eto’o’s season with a disappointing Chelsea last year as justification of Everton’s purchase as a bad move, however it seems hard to suggest so. True, the strike-rate dropped and off the field incidents grabbed more headlines than on-field performances. But, Eto’o was still the most effective of three forwards at Chelsea, and Chelsea were still a team that pushed Manchester City all the way for the title. Clearly, the striker still holds significant influence.
The added bonus for Everton comes with the ‘star quality’ that the Cameroon star brings to their side. At Chelsea, Eto’o appeared almost washed up alongside the rest of the Blues’ endless, established talents. At Everton, however, he seems more wise than withered, and he brings a little more global attention to the Toffees. Roberto Martinez is busy trying to build a team that can challenge for the Champions League spots, and Eto’o appears an excellent addition with that in mind.
The Spanish manager already had many components to a great emerging side: In Lukaku Everton possess one of the most exciting young strikers in world football; in Barkley they have an up and coming midfield star; in Phil Jagielka and Gareth Barry they have solid Premier League experience. Now, with Eto’o, they have undisputed world-class talent.
Of course, the striker will have to perform well in an Everton shirt if the transfer is to be looked back on fondly, but it seems unlikely that he won’t be able to do so. Martinez and co. will take on the challenge of the Europa League this season, but they will be looking to break into the top four next year. The chance to play in the Champions League has by no means been presented to Eto’o on a plate at Everton. He will have to work hard to grace the elite European stage once again, and that could bring out the very best in him.