Samuel Eto'o's Big Decision Time

DEAD AccountContributor IAugust 19, 2011

Decision time
Decision time

Samuel Eto'o is one of the most successful players in recent football history, with a trophy list that reads: UEFA Champions League (3), FIFA Club World Cup (1), La Liga (3), Copa del Rey (2), Supercopa de España (2), Serie A (1), Coppa Italia (2), Supercoppa Italiana (1), African Cup of Nations (2), Olympic gold medal (1).

Last season, he scored 37 goals for Inter Milan in 53 games, also providing 15 assists.

But now Samuel Eto'o has a big decision to make: whether to stay at Inter and play for one of the best clubs in the world, competing for the Champions League and Serie A titles and earning the kind of money that top footballers get paid these days, or simply leave and join an unknown club on the shores of the Caspian Sea to become the highest-paid footballer in history.

Russian Premier League side Anzhi (pronounced "Anji") Makhachkala expect to complete the Samuel Eto'o deal in the near future for around £30m ($49.4m), with Eto'o signing a four-year deal worth £340,000 ($560,000) a week, or £17.7m ($29.1m) a year.

The decision looks increasingly made. “We are very close,” Anzhi market consultant German Tkachenko said. “We could close the deal today, tomorrow or next week. For now Eto’o is still an Inter player, but I am optimistic that it will be done.”

The contract would dwarf the estimated £12m that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Real Madrid and Lionel Messi's reported £10.5m-a-year deal at Barcelona, making Eto'o not only the highest-paid footballer in history, but also the highest-paid athlete in history.

Anzhi Makhachkala hails from the troubled southern Russian province of Dagestan, and is owned by billionaire oil tycoon Suleyman Kerimov. Makhachkala is the capital of Dagestan, the unstable Russian region that borders the notorious Chechnya, and is blighted by regular shoot-outs and terrorist attacks by insurgents on police or on government officials. The club trains in Moscow and flies into Makhachkala for just two days before home games, played at their 16,000-seat stadium.

Kerimov's project has made Anzhi into the new "nouveau riche" of Russia, and the club already boasts the likes of Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos, as well as the new signings of Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea and Balázs Dzsudzsák from PSV.

Kerimov plans to build a new, 40,000-seat stadium to go with his new project. The club currently sit sixth in the Russian Premier League, and are aiming for a Champions League spot for next season.

Only time will tell if Anzhi Makhachkala's project will bear fruit, but for now they can rest happy that they are set to capture one of football's best players. As for Eto'o, he has nothing to prove, and who are we to begrudge him one last big payday before he hangs up his boots?