On so many levels, this looks like a perfect fit for both sides. In Samuel Eto’o, Everton gets an versatile striker who will easily adapt to Roberto Martínez’s approach – one whose experience and style of play can help nurture Romelu Lukaku. And in Everton, Samuel Eto’o gets to stay on the fringe of Champions League soccer, playing for somebody who has become one of the most respected young managers in Europe.
That marriage became official today, with Everton announcing the 33-year-old Cameroonian put pen to parchment on a two-year deal. Coming off a 12-goal season at Chelsea, the three-time Champions League winner makes his second stop in England, having also played prominent roles at Barcelona and Inter Milan.
“For someone who has achieved nearly everything, he still has the desire he had at 15 when he went to Spain and showed what he could do,” Martínez said, via EvertonFC.com. “For many reasons he has got a point to prove.
The main thing to prove appears to be quality: Can Eto’o still play? Though he scored slightly better than one goal every three (all competition) games at Chelsea, he was a part of an forward trio Blues’ boss José Mourinho identified as a weakness. Along with Senegalese striker Demba Ba (who left for Besiktas), Eto’o was allowed to move on, leaving only Fernando Torres retained at Stamford Bridge.
At Everton, Eto’o will serve a slightly different purpose. Whereas last season he was brought in from Anzhi Makhachkala and put into the Blues’ starting lineup, the four-time African Player of the Year will be a depth player at Goodison Park, with cup competitions and Europa League giving him his main chances to play. With the commitment Martínez has made to Lukaku, the Belgian international is going to be his first choice number nine, but the superior instincts Eto’o has shown throughout his career can, if passed on, help round out his new 21-year-old apprentice.
“I have been very impressed by the style of play Everton adopt.” Eto’o said, in a statement posted by the club. “I could see straight away that at this club I will have the opportunity to play football …
“I was impressed with his enthusiasm but also by the knowledge of football that Roberto Martinez carries, his vision of football and how he reads football. I still think I can learn a great deal from him here.”
If Martínez has sold Everton on a place where Eto’o can continue to develop, it’s a testament to the manager, who continues to show he’s one of the game’s most respected bosses. Though Eto’o’s time at the to of the European game may be over, plenty of strong clubs would welcome the chance to add a player with his résumé. That he chose Everton speaks to the draw Martínez has become.
That draw can also be seen in loan deals like Christian Atsu’s or, last year, Gerard Deulofeu’s – moves that show the renown Martínez has earned translates into more than just blog post plaudits. He’s become a man people want to play for, a potentially distinguishing factor as Everton seeks to cement it’s place near the top of the table.