Does the Form of Fernando Torres Mean Samuel Eto'o is Surplus at Chelsea?

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Samuel Eto'o of Chelsea appeals for a foul during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on October 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

As cliché as it may sound, Jose Mourinho has a problem on his hands right now. With two strikers of substantial billing in his squad, he has a decision to make: Who is his No. 1?

We’re talking about Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o, of course—two players who may have seen better days, but players all the same who Mourinho is pinning his hopes of Chelsea success on.

For Torres, things are looking a little brighter at Stamford Bridge right now, with the Spaniard arguably enjoying his best form in the three years he has been at the club.

Where Eto’o is concerned, it’s a somewhat different story.

Chelsea had very publicly courted Wayne Rooney this summer, identifying the Manchester United striker as the man they needed to lead the line in order to bring the Premier League title back to West London.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Samuel Eto'o of Chelsea reacts after missing an opportunity as Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal looks on during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on October 29, 2013 in Lon
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Credit to United, however. They stood firm. Regardless of the rumors and rhetoric being broadcast on a daily basis in the media, the club didn’t entertain Chelsea’s advances and Rooney remained at Old Trafford.

Judging by his form this term, it’s clear to see why David Moyes made such an effort. Yet, for Chelsea, their alternative to Rooney has not quite worked out the way Mourinho would have hoped.

In pursuing Rooney, Chelsea missed out on Edinson Cavani and Falcao—two of the most coveted strikers on the continent who subsequently moved to Ligue 1, joining Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco respectively.

With time running out in the transfer window, Chelsea had to settle for Eto’o. It was a move questioned at the time, and now after two months, it’s a move that continues to have question marks hanging over it.

Concerns were always going to be raised about Eto’o’s suitability. Chelsea knew they weren’t signing the Eto’o of Barcelona or Inter Milan fame, where he won the European Cup twice. They were signing a player who had been coasting in Russia for two years with Anzhi Makhachkala and, at 32, knows his best days are long gone.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on October 27, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Ge
Clive Rose/Getty Images

He has appeared nine times for Chelsea this term, and while much of the season remains, he has failed to live up to the reputation he so deservedly earned during his prime.

A return of one goal—coming against Cardiff City in the Premier League—doesn’t cut it, while his overall contribution hasn’t been much better.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park on October 26, 2013 in Birmingham, England  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Indeed, against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, Eto’o’s performance proved frustrating for the 9,000 or so Blues supporters who had made the short trip across London to see their team win 2-0.

Like the rest of Europe, their memories of the Cameroon international are of a player bursting beyond his marker, exposing weakness and scoring goals. It didn’t happen on Tuesday and it hasn’t so far in 2013-14.

There were times Eto’o found himself one-on-one with an Arsenal defender at the Emirates, but as Chelsea looked to break, he would often slow their attack down by not attempting to expose his man, allowing the Gunners to regroup.

It doesn’t augur well for the future, which is disappointing given the impact Eto’o has had wherever he has played.

Which brings us onto Mourinho’s dilemma. Who is his No. 1? Is it Torres or Eto’o?

Right now, form suggests it can only be the former. And if that’s the case, what is Eto’o doing at Stamford Bridge warming the bench, appearing for cameo appearances here and there and starting cup games?

There’s a Belgian youngster on loan at Everton and currently trailblazing his way to Premier League stardom who is more than equipped for that role, so what exactly is Eto’o’s?


Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes