What Can Everton Realistically Expect from Samuel Eto'o?

Matt CheethamCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Samuel Eto'o of Everton looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on August 30, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

One of Roberto Martinez's final forays into the summer transfer window brought Samuel Eto'o to Everton, signed to provide an extra layer of depth in attack.

Within six minutes of his debut, he was already demonstrating a scoring touch, deftly heading in a Leighton Baines free-kick against Chelsea and providing the sort of instant impact his manager will expect.

It was the options behind Romelu Lukaku that ultimately cost Everton a Champions League place last season.

Eto'o's goal against Chelsea already puts him one ahead of the combined efforts of Lacina Traore, Nikica Jelavic (at Everton) and Arouna Kone last season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Andre Schurrle of Chelsea tangles with Nikica Jelavic of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on September 14, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunsk
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

All three were supposed to support Romelu Lukaku yet none managed a single Premier League strike. In the seven games the Toffees played without Lukaku, they scored just five goals, compared to the 56 scored in the 31 games he featured in—this ratio will become far more equal with Eto'o on board.

Questions may be raised about the former Cameroon captain's lasting effectiveness but Eto'o's remained prolific over the past 12 seasons.

Remarkably, he hasn't failed to reach double figures since the 2001/02 campaign and his worst scoring ratio during that time is still a highly potent 2.67 games per goal.

In short, even a relatively large decline will still provide Everton with a sizeable return in goals this season, and substantially more than was achieved in Lukaku's absence last term.

Eto'o will provide a scoring threat off the bench, as he did against his former employers on Saturday, and can also deputise for Lukaku to keep the Belgian in peak fitness.

Everton will play several Europa League ties this season, in which Eto'o's European experience will prove vital and there will also be opportunities to start both forwards together.

Lukaku appeared almost unplayable against Arsenal last season, lining up on the right flank and cutting in on his left foot. He played that role again this season and Martinez may well toy with this combination over the coming months.

Given Everton's extended set of fixtures this season, the Toffees are likely to pass 50 games by May. A return of around 12-15 starts for Eto'o, supplemented by 20 appearances from the bench seems a likely contribution.

That input would then provide a realistic chance of making it 13 straight years scoring 10 goals or more.


Statistics via WhoScored.com.