Can Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres Play in the Same Chelsea Team?

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

It's a problem most managers crave, but very few actually get the pleasure to experience—which much-loved hero to select for your starting XI and which global star should remain on the bench?

Jose Mourinho is the envy of many of his peers for lots of reasons. He has a transfer budget only a few can dream of, let alone rival, while this summer he has inherited a Chelsea squad packed full of young talent that should serve the club for many years to come.

He does have a problem, though. It's not exactly trouble in paradise, but Chelsea's wealth of attacking options means he has tough decisions to make all year.

Whereas Hull City Tigers manager Steve Bruce or Paul Lambert at Aston Villa would have known their attacking options well in advance of their early-season meetings with Chelsea, Mourinho was probably mulling his over until shortly before kickoff.

Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schurrle, Oscar and now Willian—Chelsea have an embarrassment of midfield riches and Mourinho knows he can't pick them all in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Who starts? Who misses out? They're the same questions we will be asking every matchday throughout 2013-14, but further forward it's perhaps even tougher.

Romelu Lukaku may have joined Everton on loan, yet in Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, Chelsea still have three strikers capable of walking into most Premier League teams.

Eto'o is the more recent addition of the trio. His free capture from Anzhi Makhachkala has heaped some considerable pressure on Torres, whose position now looks a little less stable than it was when Mourinho stepped back into the Chelsea fold in June.

With one man leading the line, if Torres plays, Eto'o doesn't—and vice versa. It's a reality both players will have to face this term, too, as they are hardly compatible.

Throughout their careers, both have played as a lone front man. Torres was effective doing it at Liverpool, while Eto'o won the Champions League performing similar duties with Barcelona.

At their best, they were devastating for their clubs. Indeed, they still can be, yet it won't be as a partnership for Chelsea.

Under Mourinho at Inter Milan, we saw Eto'o unselfishly play a wider role for the Nerazzurri to allow Diego Milito to cause the havoc he did en route to lifting the Champions League in 2010.

Eto'o was able to do this as Inter didn't have the options Chelsea do right now. If the Cameroon striker was to move out wide, it would come at the cost of Hazard, Mata or another attacking midfielder. It would make Chelsea severely weaker as a result.

No, Eto'o's role in this team will be through the middle, as will that of Torres whenever he features—and Ba for that matter.

Hearing their names mentioned in the same breath conjures up an exciting notion of what might be, but the reality is far different.

A Torres-Eto'o combination will congest the middle ground and hamper what the club has been trying to achieve in recent years.

The idea is for the striker in this Chelsea team to feed off those behind him and also creating room for the attacking midfielders to exploit. Torres actually does this very well and with Eto'o in tow, it would act to confuse an already successful formula.

It's a dream that would quickly become a nightmare, and not for defenders they would be facing. Mourinho is more savvy than that.

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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