Samuel Eto’o joins Chelsea on a 1 year contract, with an extension depending on his performance. Much has been made about what seems like a plan B if the capture of a certain English forward fails.
There aren’t exactly any kind of straight forward scouting report on Eto’o. Everyone seems to know his exploits in Serie A and the La Liga. Nevertheless, one cannot be too safe.
Samuel Eto’o Fils, 32 years old and arguably the greatest African footballer of his generation, second only to Didier Drogba. With 3 Champions League medals hidden away in a secluded room of his luxurious mansion, Eto’o adds experience to a squad that will depend on young players.
Despite being a forward, he has large experience of playing on the wings. It’s a common misconception that he depends a lot on his pace. However he mainly relies on intelligent movement even if pace was one of his strongest attributes . When upfront, he could drop back and bring the midfielders into play. While on the wings, he mainly had Messi and Henry at Barcelona, while with Inter it was Diego Milito upfront.
He can play as a supporting striker, which gives Chelsea the option to field two upfront. Torres can’t play as a supporting striker, he’s like Lukaku, feeding on through balls and relying on pace, something the Spaniard seems to have lost. Ba can never play as a supporting striker, and neither can he play on the wings. He was in good form at Newcastle, but when Pardew made the switch to a 4-3-3, with Ba on the left, Cisse upfront and Ben-Arfa on the right, Ba’s form dried up. He struggled to score whenever he and Cisse made the team together.
As always, to make sure you haven’t slept off by now, let’s throw in a few diagrams .
At West Bromwich, Lukaku wasn’t the kind of player who would drop back a lot to defend. However in Steve Clark’s 4-4-1-1, Lukaku was often found exchanging positions with Long or Odemwinge, who were usually deployed behind him. However the defensive work-rate was put in by Brunt and Morrison, who covered for their full-backs and tend to act like interiores when they push inside to make the #10 area compact. Akin to Hazard, Oscar and probably Eto’o as well.
Not only exchanging positions, but he would often let Long come up beside him and act as a catalyst. Mind you, Lukaku did barely anything to support, but Long did. He created space, dragged defenders and put the balls in for the Belgian. Eto’o on the other hand would often cut for Milito, and make space for the hit-man. At Barcelona, he, Messi and Henry basically interchanged positions more than 20 times in a game. With Oscar , Hazard and Mata being comfortable enough to play anywhere across the front three, Eto’o could easily fit in.
Not implying that Lukaku is a starter, but Torres can also take up that position.
In the second diagram, we can let Eto’o play the Long role. He’ll assist Lukaku with his experience and movement, and also be able to bring the midfielder’s in play, which is his strongest attribute.Not to forget his defensive work-rate. Being the striker upfront , this was his action areas –
Another thing we can talk about is that he add’s more flexibility in formations, From my analysis of the game against Villa, it could be found that Oscar would usually drop back a lot, that would give us a formation of 4-3-3. With one gesture it could be achieved by players who are versatile enough to do it. Torres and Lukaku are players who will hold their ground and not roam too much until their told to. Eto’o however, even at the age of 32 isn’t afraid to explore, baring in mind that his stamina isn’t what it used to be.
To end this, grabbing Eto’o is a coup at its finest. The experience and versatility he brings in is incredible. If it was about the money, he would have stayed at Anzhi who offered to keep him there and earn exorbitant wages. Age isn’t really a problem for African players who have longer periods of enjoying their peak. However, I don’t really think he’ll be a starter, but the kind of a player who is a perfect catalyst to turn things around in dire moments. That’s the kind of quality Chelsea have brought in.