Everton are eyeing up a move for free agent striker Samuel Eto’o to bolster their injury ridden squad, after talks between the player and Liverpool broke down over the weekend.
Everton started their 2014-2015 Premier League campaign by conceding late goals in consecutive 2-2 draws against Leicester City and Arsenal. The two “draws that feel like a loss” can in part be contributed to tired legs and a lack of depth. A problem that was further compounded after Steven Pienaar (groin injury) had to be substituted after just 10 minutes against Arsenal on Saturday.
With Ross Barkley, Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone already suffering from knee injuries, Manager Roberto Martinez has been forced to add depth to his squad and may well be forced to do so again before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
When Martinez was asked last week whether his players were progressing quick enough with their injuries and whether or not more signings are needed he said, “we have got a bit of time but over the next two weeks we need to take that into consideration, bearing in mind the transfer window will close.”
Midfielders Gareth Barry, Christian Atsu and Muhamed Besic along with club record signing, striker Romelu Lukaku have already been brought in, but Samuel Eto’o could do wonders to take the pressure off of the young Belgian striker. Eto’o is thought to be keen on remaining in the Premier League and Everton are now front runners after Liverpool closed in on enigmatic 24-year-old Mario Balotelli, preferring him to the aging Eto’o.
However, Eto’o still has plenty to offer at this level. Last season he scored 9 times in 16 starts for Chelsea, playing both as the out-and-out striker and on the wing. Eto’o also offers a different skill set than 21-year-old Lukaku. Rather than using size and strength to boulder his way through defenses, Eto’o uses his cunning and guile to hide in plain sight and create goals.
Furthermore, aside from Lukaku, Eto’o would be the only healthy striker in Martinez’s squad and is an upgrade to the injured Kone. With the translucent Steven Naismith having moved from striker into the number ten role as Everton’s ‘Scottish Messi’, Everton have been without a true striking option off the bench in both of their first two games.
The main issue holding up the deal is the money. We know, when Eto’o moved to Russia in 2011 it wasn’t for the borscht and weather. Eto’o is rumored to have demanded £100,000 a week from Liverpool and this same contract would make him the highest paid player at Everton. And it isn’t like Eto’o won’t have options as it appears a club in Qatar are set to offer him a £7 million a year contract.
The former Champions League winner would be well used by an attack minded manager like Martinez and brings skill and experience to an Everton squad looking to make a push for the top four. It is then up to Eto’o as to whether or not he wants to trade rainy days and top level football for beautiful beaches and oil money.