Samuel Eto'o: Ranking the Top 5 Candidates to Replace the Striker at Inter Milan
Samuel Eto'o's departure to free-spending Anzhi, while a solid move for Eto'o, earning him a huge paycheck at the end of his career, has left Inter Milan in a bit of a bind as the transfer season winds down.
The Cameroonian had his best ever season in 2010-11, recording 37 goals and 15 assists in 53 games, meaning he either contributed to, or scored a goal in practically every single game he played in 2010-11.
Now, with only days left to go before the close of the transfer window, Inter Milan are tasked with the nearly impossible job of finding a striker who can replicate the massive offensive output of Samuel Eto'o, or at least come close.
We rank their options in the following slides.
5: Mauro Zarate
The first option that is reportedly being considered by Inter Milan is Mauro Zarate, according to the player's agent.
There are a number of reasons that Mauro Zarate is not the right fit for Inter.
For starters, Zarate has never been an impressive goalscorer. He has scored 25 goals in 103 league appearances for Lazio, a ratio of roughly one goal every four games.
Additionally, Zarate has never been an out-and-out striker, like Eto'o, at Lazio. He usually plays on the wings or as a second striker, and Inter Milan aren't particularly looking to strengthen those positions currently (though Zarate could hypothetically be a good fit as one of the two wing-forwards one the sides of Pazzini/Milito).
Lastly, Zarate cost Lazio €20 million-plus to bring in, and has a €60 million-plus buyout clause in his contract. It probably wouldn't cost Inter Milan half that buyout amount to bring him to Inter, but even that would be too much for Inter Milan, who only recouped €15 million (rising to €21 million) from the sale of Eto'o.
4: Dirk Kuyt
Again, its hard to ascertain the chances of such a transfer going through given that multiple reports have confirmed that Dirk Kuyt is happy at Liverpool. However, the striker has not ruled out a move to Inter Milan, and major news sources have confirmed that negotiations are taking place, or are at least due to take place.
Dirk Kuyt's potential transfer suffers from some of same problems that Zarate's does. While Kuyt is unlikely to be very expensive, given that he is now 31 years old, he has not been a prolific goalscorer for Liverpool in quite some time, scoring around 10 goals per season. Kuyt also lacks the creativity that Eto'o possessed, and is a wing-forward like Zarate, meaning he would not be a like-for-like replacement for Eto'o.
Dirk Kuyt would not be a bad signing if all of Inter Milan's other transfer targets could not be lured to the San Siro, but he definitely isn't the best option available to Inter Milan in the transfer market currently.
3: Carlos Tevez
Though the Carlos Tevez transfer saga seemed dead just a week or so ago, multiple papers have simply refused to allow the saga to pass quietly as we approach the transfer deadline. As such, we are now hearing about the possibility of Carlos Tevez moving to Inter Milan on a two-year loan.
Personally, I don't see it happening, and that's why I have the transfer down as third on this list. If Manchester City were okay with loaning Carlos Tevez, surely it would've happened weeks ago, given that Inter Milan are trying to save as much money as they can in their current financial state. To me, this all just paper talk and little else. The fact that a substantial paper has not picked up on these rumors simply confirms that for me.
However, it must be said, Carlos Tevez would be a good fit for Inter Milan, and would give them probably the best option on the market to step into the shoes of Samuel Eto'o.
2: Diego Forlan
Of all the potential transfers Inter Milan are pursuing before the transfer deadline, Diego Forlan's looks the most likely to happen. Diego Forlan has been practically begging Inter Milan to come and get him in recent days, and very recently asked to stay back from the team's trip to Portugal in the second-leg of their Europa League qualifier "because he is considering joining another team."
Diego Forlan, in the latter stages of his career, isn't as attractive an option for Inter Milan as Carlos Tevez would be, but he definitely can still get the job done. At 32, it's not known whether he has one or two more good years in him, but it's unlikely he has more than that.
Likely, Diego Forlan is looking for one final hurrah before calling time on his career, similar to what Eto'o is doing at Anzhi, while Inter Milan are looking for a temporary stopgap measure to give them time to fix their financial situation and pursue a long-term striker in the future.
1: Diego Milito
To clarify, I'm not advocating that Inter Milan buy no-one and simply start Diego Milito, in place of Eto'o, alongside Pazzini. But if the club decide to buy someone like Kuyt or Zarate, or unfortunately can't buy anyone, then Milito may just be the ideal candidate to step into Samuel Eto'o shoes.
Even if Diego Forlan were the striker to join Inter, Diego Milito could still be the one to take over the scoring load, while Forlan and Pazzini fight to be Milito's striker partner. Or, hypothetically, Gian Piero Gasperini could move two of the three strikers into wing-forwards, or rotate them throughout the season to keep them fresh. There are plenty of options.
What must be remembered is that Diego Milito was quite a force under Gian Piero Gasperini at Genoa in 2008-09, and thus it's likely he has the tools to help Diego Milito regain his form. Milito already has confidence in himself to find the net regularly again, and Gasperini would seem to be the ideal man to help him do that, having made him a potent weapon at Genoa.
Whether or not Inter Milan bring in a striker, utilizing Diego Milito effectively may be their safest and best bet in effectively replacing Samuel Eto'o.
What do you guys think? Is there anyone else you've seen recently linked to Inter who may slot in better in attack than the five strikers mentioned on this list? Do you maybe disagree with the ordering of the list, and believe that one of the strikers on the list is being overrated or underrated as a good fit for Inter Milan?
Make your opinion known in the comments section below, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.