Does the Form of Fernando Torres Mean Samuel Eto'o is Surplus at Chelsea?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is Samuel Eto'o needed at Stamford Bridge?
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
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