Samuel Eto'o is "very annoyed" with Jose Mourinho's decision to criticise the player in a conversation that was secretly filmed and later broadcast, according to the striker's former international coach.
Veteran boss Claude Le Roy, who has enjoyed two spells with the Cameroon national team during his career, discussed Mourinho's jabs with Eto'o—reported by Canal Plus via ESPN:
I had him on the phone just before I came on screen, and he's very annoyed.
Actually, Mourinho went to see him before he saw the pictures and told him to not believe everything that was going to be said. And that he had said nothing about him. But I can tell you that Samuel didn't like it.
As reported by Matt Barlow and Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail, Mourinho was recorded discussing his lack of striking options, despite having Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba in his squad, while also insulting Eto'o's age.
"The problem with Chelsea is I lack a scorer," said Mourinho. "I have Eto'o but he is 32 years old, maybe 35, who knows?"
Canal Plus captured the chat and aired it around the world, much to the Chelsea manager's annoyance. Mourinho's press conference prior to his side's Champions League clash with Galatasaray was dominated by the incident, sparking an angry reaction from the Special One.
Ben Smith of the BBC sums up the manager's irritated retort toward the press:
Mourinho on CanalPlus running footage of a private conversation: "You (the media) should all be embarrased...it's a real disgrace."— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) February 25, 2014
Mourinho aimed to justify his comments during the heated conference, but it seems Eto'o isn't best pleased with the man who brought him to West London from Anzhi Makhachkala, per Martin Lipton of the Mirror:
My comment was obviously not a good one or one I would do in a serious way or an official way in an interview.
Firstly because I don't make fun of anyone; secondly because if there is a list of manager who defends their players, I'm one of them; thirdly, because Eto'o is Eto'o, four times a Champions League winner.
A spokesman for Canal Plus also weighed in after Mourinho aimed to publicly shame the channel for its decision to air his comments, per ESPN:
These are not stolen images. The camera wasn't 10 metres away, it's not on zoom. You could see the red light and he was clearly aware he was being filmed, especially as he's someone who comes across cameras so often and who is used to the media.
Mourinho perhaps did not want to fully assume what he had said. He could have come and seen the journalist and asked us not to use the images. He did not make any special request.
Mourinho may wish to ensure Eto'o's reported annoyance isn't going to impact his game. Although far from prolific, the experienced striker is Chelsea's most lethal goal-scoring outlet behind Eden Hazard this season, having netted six goals in 17 Premier League appearances, per WhoScored.com.
Should Samuel Eto'o be annoyed by Jose Mourinho's comments?
He has also emerged useful in the Champions League, scoring two goals in three starts and a duo of substitute appearances. With Torres continuing his return to full fitness and Ba heavily unfancied, Eto'o is likely to lead the line when the Blues run out at the Turk Telekom Arena on Wednesday.
Both Mourinho and Eto'o can expect further questioning after the match. The situation will only be cleared if the player declares there isn't a problem, or that he has settled his frustration in a personal chat with the manager.
Should Eto'o happen to lose his form without the situation being resolved, criticism of Mourinho will intensify, as he will be outlined as the catalyst for the player's sudden lack of quality.