Should Barcelona let Eto’o go?
While Real Madrid were tying up their deal to sign Kaka from AC Milan, Barcelona seemed curiously ambivalent about the possibility of losing one of their big-name players, the Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o .
The 28-year-old has a contract until 2010 when he will be able to leave free of cost, unless an extension can be agreed or the club decide to cash in on him now.
The first meeting to discuss the issue between his agent Jose Maria Mesalles and Barca’s sports director Txiki Begiristain, took place on Monday with very little seemingly resolved.
“The technical staff and the representative have met to try and agree a period of continuity, which is what we would like,” Barca president Joan Laporta said on the club website.
Mesalles said no renewal proposal had been forthcoming so far, but insisted Eto’o wanted to continue.
He was quoted in Spanish media as saying: “We are open to every possibility. If we have to look at a renewal we will study it, but if there is another possibility we will study that too.”
Inter Milan and Manchester City have been linked with interest for Eto’o, while Barca are reported to have considered a swap deal involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and moves for Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan or Olympique Lyon’s Karim Benzema*, or maybe even Bayern Munich;s Luca Toni.
But why would they not want to hang on to a player who scored 30 goals in the Primera Liga last season and netted the opener in their Champions League final victory over Manchester United?
Media reports have suggested there are differences over the terms of a renewal, and that coach Pep Guardiola may want a different style of striker to lead the line along with Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.
Perhaps Barca’s greatest fear is that if they cannot meet the player’s demands on an improved contract, or convince him to take up an offer from another club, he could just walk away from them next year denying them a substantial payday.
It is an issue that is unlikely to be resolved quickly, as Mesalles recognised: “The market is open until August 31 and anything can happen before then.”
PHOTO: Barcelona’s Samuel Etoo scores against Deportivo Coruna during their league match in Coruna May 30, 2009. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal
* corrected at 1730 GMT, June 10 after we originally had wrong first name