Chelsea will sign Samuel Eto’o on a stunning £7million one-year deal on Thursday after admitting defeat in their pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Eto’o, the 32-year-old Cameroon forward, is taking a huge pay cut from the £17m a year that made him the world’s best paid footballer at Anzhi Makhachkala and will sign on a free transfer.
However, Anzhi are understood to have sweetened the deal by giving Eto’o a multi-million-pound lump sum to get him off their wage bill.
Eto'o arrived at London's St Pancras station on Wednesday night, where he was pictured with super-agent Pini Zahavi, and is due to have a medical at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground before finalising terms after his advisers held talks on Wednesday.
Write caption here
Seal the deal: Eto'o shakes hands with Pini Zahavi (left picture) and strides towards his car (right)
Whisked away: Eto'o, who is set to take a huge pay cut to join Chelsea, leaves St Pancras on Wednesday night
Solution? Samuel Eto'o will seal his move to Chelsea as Jose Mourinho ended his striker search
Target: Mourinho didn't select any strikers at Old Trafford and the chase for Wayne Rooney seems to be over
NO OLDS BARRED AT CHELSEA
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, a confirmed Eto’o admirer, turned to his Plan B after United steadfastly refused to sell Rooney.
Indeed, the England striker’s immediate future at Old Trafford looks assured after he took to his Facebook page to voice appreciation of the support he received from United fans during his outstanding performance in Monday night’s goalless draw between the sides.
Rooney posted: ‘It was an unbelievable reaction from the fans, so thank you. I really appreciate your support. It means a lot.’
Mourinho may try again for Rooney later in the season, but for now he is content with Eto’o, about whom he once said: ‘Any coach would be stupid not to want to have a striker like him.’
There is a kinship between the Chelsea coach and his new signing.
Eto’o has never been short of an opinion. At Barcelona he took a microphone on live television and called his former club Real Madrid ‘b*****ds’ to celebrate Barcelona’s 2005 Spanish title; he dared to publicly attack Ronaldinho’s work-rate and justifiably threatened to leave the field when racially abused from the stands in Zaragoza.
It is no surprise that his first exchange with Mourinho was a heated one.
In the tunnel at Stamford Bridge in 2005 when Chelsea beat Barcelona in the Champions League, a melee followed between players, and Eto’o was vocal in his opinion of Chelsea’s tactics. Mourinho liked the striker’s feistiness.
‘I liked the fact he was worked up after a defeat,’ recalled Mourinho.
Reunion: Eto'o and Mourinho won the treble at Inter Milan in 2010
That fire was put to good use when the two joined forces at Inter Milan where Eto’o was the spearhead for Mourinho’s Treble-winning side. During that time, the four-time African Player of the Year scored a winner at Stamford Bridge to end Chelsea’s Champions League hopes.
Silky of touch, dedicated and clinical, Eto’o is also one to nurture the young players around him, a factor that will not be lost on his coach.
Questions will be asked whether he has the pace which made him such a feared opponent in Italy and Spain and there was evidence in Russia and the Europa League last year that his power is dwindling with age.
However, his speed of thought and relationship with Chelsea’s other Anzhi recruit, the Brazilian Willian, still spawned a goal ratio of one every two games. It is a gamble Mourinho is prepared to take and one appreciated by Eto’o.
‘There is only one Jose Mourinho,’ Eto’o once said about his former manager. ‘I have played under a lot of great coaches but there is no other character in the game like Jose.
defeat: The signing effectively kills any hope Mourinho had of signing United striker Rooney
Writing's on the wall: Wayne Rooney took to Facebook to thank Old Trafford fans against Chelsea
I would like to have the chance to play under him again because it is never boring when Jose is around.’ Eto’o’s arrival comes as a further blow to the three strikers already at Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku were on the bench at Old Trafford on Monday night and Demba Ba, wanted back at Newcastle by their manager Alan Pardew, was not even in the squad.
The arrivals of Willian and Eto’o will not signal the end of Chelsea’s spending. The club are in talks with Porto for Christian Atsu, a £4m-rated winger also wanted by Cardiff, Tottenham and Liverpool. And the 21-year-old Ghana flyer is concerned he will get little playing time among Chelsea’s galaxy of attacking stars.
But if they do sign Atsu ahead of free-spending Spurs, it will be a second triumph over Andre Villas-Boas this summer, following Willian.
All smiles: Brazilian playmaker Willian revealed his delight at completing his move to Stamford Bridge
Willian at Chelsea
The forward completed his £32m move to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday after a successful work permit hearing.
Last week he had seemed to be on the verge of a move to White Hart Lane and even had a medical before a late move from Chelsea prised him away from Tottenham.
Mourinho gave evidence on the 25-year-old’s behalf to convince the Home Office to grant him a work permit.
Another new face: Chelsea are also in talks to sign Porto's Ghanian winger Christian Atsu
A delighted Willian said: ‘It’s going to be an immense pleasure to work with Jose Mourinho, to listen to him and learn from him. He’s one of the best coaches in the world with everything he’s won. I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot and improve a lot.
‘My style is that I like to dribble a lot and play with speed. I like to accelerate very fast with the ball. I’m also quite technical and like to shoot at goal.
‘When the offer came I never gave a thought to anybody else, I said to myself that I would run here, and I’m happy to be here now. Chelsea was always my first choice.’