The Mistreatment of Samuel Eto'o

Puneet SinghContributor IJuly 26, 2009

ROME - MAY 27:  Samuel Eto'o of Barcelona and his team mate Andres Iniesta celebrate after Eto'o scored the first goal for Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester United and Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico on May 27, 2009 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Usually when a team has massive success in one year its better to add players to that group rather than subtract. It would be foolish to remove a player or group of players especially if the one player you are removing was one of your best players out on the field.
In case you haven't realized yet, I am talking about the Samuel Eto'o saga that has finally found its conclusion.
With the conclusion of the Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona for Samuel Eto'o along with €48 million euros due to be done by this coming Monday, its time to take a look at how this saga actually began, back in the summer of 2008.

Summer of 2008
Call it the exodus and the re-establishment. Ronaldinho, Deco, Juliano Belletti, Gianluca Zambrotta, and their coach Frank Rijkaard were all shown the door while Lilian Thuram hung it up due to a potentially fatal heart condition.
In that summer came in Pep Guardiola as their coach, along with Seydou Keita, Alex Hleb, Gerard Pique, and Martin Caceres.
There was a strong push from both Guardiola and president Joan Laporta to have join Eto'o join the former group with an exit at the Nou Camp. They were heavily offering away "Samu" (as the Blaugrana faithful call him) to Milan, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Arsenal.
Numerous deals were being offered; Eto'o for Emmanuel Adebayor (who came off his monster season), Eto'o for Didier Drogba, Eto'o for WHOEVER.
It was a slap in the face of a loyal servant who was coming off a year where he scored 18 goals in 28 total games which included 16 in 18 La Liga games.
Unfortunately for Eto'o a deal never materialized. Lucky for Barcelona. They would not add a forward that transfer window. And Eto'o would go off to have a big year leading them to the treble.
All the while that Barca were shopping away their No. 9, Eto'o continually insisted that he wanted to stay at Barcelona and see out not only his contract but his playing career as well.
Eto'o did not deserve Barca, he deserved better.

The 2008-09 Campaign: The Year of Barca's Treble
Barca started the year off in scintillating form with the offense in full force outscoring opponents 15-6 while going 4-0-1 in that time. Eto'o was responsible for four of the first 15 goals.
When everything was all said and done and Barcelona had finished their 2008-09 season winning La Liga, Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League: thus concluding the treble.
In that Champions League final against Manchester United, it was Eto'o who tore through the Manchester United defense in the 1st 10 minutes to score the game-opening goal.
At the end of the 08-09 year Eto'o finished second on the team in scoring, amassing a whopping 36 goals in 52 games which was 10 more than Thierry Henry and two less than Lionel Messi; the man who received all the accolades and praise for Barca's success.

Summer of 2009
Barca started the summer off quiet while Madrid and Manchester City were the ones making all the noise.
With Madrid stacking stars like poker chips, the pressure was on Barca. Whilst there was no interest from Barca to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Albiol, or Kaka, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola did make it clear that signing either Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, or David Villa was his objective this offseason.
When Madrid were unable to sign Villa, they turned to Benzema and wrapped up that deal as well. Barca made an attempt to sign Villa, but the transfer fee proved prohibitive.
They were looking at a summer of no major signing while Madrid would take the spotlight of the summer without winning anything. Even Carlos Tevez showed his true colors as a mercenary and signed with Manchester City in a mega contract deal.
After Madrid had mopped up most of the major chips of the summer, Barca made a quick splash to sign Keirrison as a piece for the future but look set to loan him out for at least this year, unless Eidur Gudjonsen finds a new home.
Back track to Eto'o: Eto'o was almost offloaded in late June early July; the newly rich Manchester City were 90 percent done with a deal to sign Samu; the transfer fee of €25 million had been agreed to by both parties and all that was left were the personal terms. That was the stumbling block; Eto'o was demanding upwards of €10 million after taxes. The Citizens felt that was too much for their swollen pocketbook and opted against that, instead taking Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz along with Tevez.

The Week Of July 19th, 2009
Rumors became truth. Ibrahimovic officially hands in his transfer request to Jose Mourinho and Massimo Moratti, claiming he wants to go to Barcelona because he has a better chance of winning the Champions League and Ballon D'Or.
Inter Milan oblige and begin discussions with Barcelona within that week. Barcelona view this as an opportunity to offload Eto'o, while Inter will gladly take the services of a forward who has scored 130 in 200 appearances for Barca.
The deal is contingent on both players passing physicals while the contracts have been setup; Ibra will now earn €8 million a year for Barcelona while Eto'o's wages are suppose to bring him in upwards of €7 million.
Inter Milan are sad to see Ibra go, but both Moratti and Mourinho are ecstatic to have a player coming in who wants to be there. Eto'o meet Jose, Jose meet Samu. This is a match made in heaven.

Why Did Barca Go This Route?
Why did Barcelona opt to give up their second leading scorer who was such a clutch player for them over the last three years for a player who is considered a big game flop all over Europe?

Three Reasons:
1.) Eto'o's Contract. Samuel Eto'o wanted a pay raise over the last three years which Barcelona have failed to give him. He had openly stated that he will not sign an extension for Barcelona unless his wages are improved; very understandable given his work for the team.
2.) Youth. While there is only a one year age difference, many believe Eto'o has already peaked and a decline is imminent within the next two to three years. "Ibra'cadabra", on the other hand, is 27 and many believe he has yet to put it all together to be the total package. With a move to Barca everyone is banking on it to finally happen.
3.) A New Dimension. Eto'o can score, we all know that. But what Zlatan scores and creates opportunities for others; something that Eto'o doesn't do so good. What Barca are hoping is that when opponents lock down on Messi, Ibra will take over and when teams lock in on Ibra, Messi can run wild.

Eto'o deserves better. Many people don't criticize Guardiola and Laporta because they don't say much to stir up trouble, but actions speak louder than words. Laporta may have signed Ibrahimovic but it is mainly from the pressure of Madrid.
When Zlatan flops in El Classico and Champions League, Barca will wonder what could've been if Eto'o was around.
Good Bye Samu, you are off to a greener pasture. Eto'o and the €48 million make Inter a better team now and for the upcoming years. 
Ibra = Scudetto.
Eto'o and €48 million = a strong run in the Champions League.