Two years ago, in the summer of 2006, Samuel Etoo was at the peak of his powers having won the Champions League and La Liga. He was top goalscorer in Spain, with 26 goals, and scored important goals in throughout the season – also in the final against Arsenal. The last two seasons he was a shadow of his former self. Reports of falling out with team mates and the manager, threatening to leave Catalonia and even reports that he was going to pack it all in a play in the lucrative Uzbekistan league - something you would never imagine a 27 year old football at his peak would even remotely consider.
Three months later and Samuel Etoo is a completely different player, topping the La Liga scoring table, bagging four at the weekend and getting praise for his work rate and overall performances in helping Barcelona become the highest scoring team, in the first eight games, since Real Madrid in the late 50′s against Valladolid in which they beat 6-0. It is a big turn around from a player who went from being the best striker in Europe to a player no big club wanted. Barcelona goldenboy, and now manager, Pep Guardiola wanted to get rid of the Cameroon international – but couldn’t find a buyer…why?
There were reports Etoo was older than his 27 years, that his knees couldn’t hack it anymore – but was it really that nobody, not even his own side, wanted to give him a chance? I’ve always been a massive fan of the player. He is quick and strong but also has exceptional technical ability. He was literally the best striker in Europe in 2006 and was exceptional all season for Barcelona. Do you think Fergie ever flirted with the idea of bringing in Etoo instead of Berbatov or was it simply never a starter? Would you have welcomed the signing of the Barcelona forward instead of Berbatov or would you have thought he had too much of an ego to succeed at United?
I’m not slagging off the signing of Berbatov, or the player for that matter – I just want to explore the idea of value for money. We’ll never know what went on with Etoo in the summer of 2008 and his manager. We will never know if the report that he was about to ruin his career and join Rivaldo in a two bob league. But I do know that he is a quality player and has shown that in the opening months of the season by scoring 13 goals so far. His first goal on Saturday was simply sublime as he danced his way around two defenders before hitting a superb shot past the keeper.
I’m happy with the signing of Berbatov but something tells me that we missed a trick with Etoo, come to think of it, so did the rest of Europe.