The news of Samuel Eto’os arrival in London will have been received well by Chelsea fans as well as in Manchester, with the possible exception of one person. Eto’o flew in to Heathrow airport yesterday for signing talks and a medical with Chelsea, reuniting the player with Jose Mourinho who he played for at Inter Milan. The move for the Cameroon striker effectively pours cold water on Chelsea’s ambitions to sign want away Manchester United striker, Wayne Rooney. In recent weeks the England forward has been acting much like a petulant child in an effort to force a move to Stamford Bridge but this latest news will now leave Rooney with little room to manoeuvre.
Eto’o himself has been looking for an escape after his current club; Anzhi Makhachkala placed the entire squad on the transfer list with the hope of slashing their astronomical wage bill. The chance to work for Mourinho again was too good to refuse for the player, even if that meant taking a $10million reduction in his annual wages to do so. Eto’o will join on a free transfer and will sign a one year $7million contract, made possible following discussions between the two Russian owners of Chelsea and Anzi, Roman Abramovich and Suleyman Kerimov. Anzhi’s fans will be disappointed to see their star striker leave but with a need to consolidate and reduce overall costs in line with UEFA’s new financial guidelines, they will understand the decision to sell. Indeed Kerimov was so keen to get Eto’os large salary off the wage bill that he has sanctioned a one off sweetener payment to be paid to the player as thanks for his years of service.
With Eto’o on board and the ink drying on another Anzhi signing Willian, Mourinho is edging closer to what he believes is a championship and champions league winning squad. A January move for Rooney may still be on the cards but for now the player remains at Old Trafford under the command of new manager, David Moyes. The Scottish boss has been fearful of letting Rooney depart to a league rival as he looks to follow Sir Alex’s good work last year by winning back to back titles. Whether United actually need Rooney to do so is debatable but a Rooney inspired Chelsea would only heap more unnecessary pressure on Moyes than he needs. He may still sanction the sale of Rooney but it will only be to a club on the continent, much to Arsenals disappointment. As yet no interested parties from Europe have stepped forward and with very few clubs likely to be able to match Rooney’s wage demands, the player looks set to remain a Manchester United player for the time being.
The news that Rooney is staying will come as a welcome boost to the United fans who watched from the stands as Rooney was the stand out player in the game this past Monday against Chelsea. So far there have been no new arrivals during this summer’s transfer window, but with Rooney now committing to the club for the foreseeable future, it will feel to the fans like a transfer coup. The next 6 months will be crucial for Rooney and how he reacts, following a turbulent past few week., With England likely to qualify for the Brazil World Cup next summer, Roy Hodgson will need Rooney back at his best and firing on all cylinders and the player himself knows that even with England his place in the starting eleven is not a foregone, especially if his form has escaped him or he isn’t playing regularly. Moyes to be fair has been honest in saying that Robin Van Persie is his main striker but with someone of Rooney’s talents available, he is unlikely to ignore the player or reduce him to reserve team appearances only. The only reason Moyes would react differently to Rooney is if the players attitude is flawed, something that has happened once before when Moyes managed Rooney as an Everton player. Rooney must decide if he is to knuckle down and give his all for the club or finally turn around and ask for a transfer request, formally ending his time as a United player. If the latter happens, it won’t be long before Mourinho makes his feelings known again with a bid, with the prospect of partnering Rooney with Eto’o too good to refuse.