As is customary with writing anything about Samuel Eto’o, we’re legally obliged to remind you that he once played for Everton.
Honestly, look it up. Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s proceed.
It’s fair to say Eto’o and Pep Guardiola didn’t always see eye to eye during their one and only full campaign together at Barcelona.
Eto’o recently sat down for an interview on beIN SPORTS show ‘Le Club du Dimanche’, in which he transformed into a human AK-47.
Guardiola caught shots left, right and centre. If you’re reading this Pep, it’s probably best to look away now.
The beef started ahead of the Guardiola’s first season in charge of Barcelona when Eto’o, along with Ronaldinho, Deco and Gianluigi Zambrotta, were informed that they weren’t in Pep’s plans.
Deco was sold to Chelsea while Ronaldinho and Zambrotta moved to AC Milan, leaving Eto’o as the sole elephant in the room.
Eto’o was coming off the back of a season in which he’d scored 16 goals in 18 La Liga appearances, so his agent’s phone should have been ringing off the hook.
But, when am offer arrived, it wasn’t exactly prestigious.
Eto explained: “I had a very good offer to go and play in Uzbekistan, where I would have made $26million in six months.
“Pep, sitting in his office with Tixi Begiristain, told me that it was a good deal and that I should go.”
Eto’o wasn’t having it. He said: “I was the player that would make him win, but only if he asked for forgiveness.
“And I stayed there. I kept training and we went to the United States.”
Barcelona were embarking on their pre-season tour, having already stuffed Hibernian and Dundee United 6-0 and 5-1 respectively.
We’ll let Eto’o take it from here.
“We were in Houston, in the locker room, and he said to me before the game, ‘okay we are going to change numbers. Titi [Thierry Henry], you take Samuel’s no.9’.
“So they’re playing. I’m on the bench. We’re playing against a Mexican team. And he had the bad luck to give me 20 minutes.
“In those 20 minutes I scored three goals. We then go to New York. He sends me back in and I score three more.”
A brief bit of fact checking reveals Eto’o might have been getting a bit carried away.
He in fact scored twice against Guadalajara, having replaced Thierry Henry at half-time.
Eto’o also scored twice against New York Red Bulls, having played the first 45 minutes of the game.
But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
Even if Eto’o had slightly embellished the truth, Guardiola had a problem.
The Cameroonian explained: “He was obligated to organise a reunion. But since he never had the courage to tell me things to my face he went through my team-mates.
“We started the season, I spoke to Pep twice. Twice. One time he wanted me to go talk to Yaya Toure, who wanted to hear nothing for him.”
Hardly ideal working conditions.
So what happened next? Pure magic.
Eto’o scored 30 times in La Liga and 36 times overall, including the first strike in the Champions League final against Man United.
Guardiola finished his first season as Barcelona manager with a league title, Copa del Rey medal and Champions League trophy to his name.
His midfield of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets is arguably the best to grace modern football while Lionel Messi, Henry and Eto’o helped Barcelona score 105 goals in La Liga alone.
But if you’re expecting a story of companionship and reconciliation you’ve come to the wrong place.
Pep moved Eto’o on in the summer, despite his form during the 2008/09 season.
In fact, he was so keen to get him off Barcelona’s books that he swapped him to Inter Milan for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and £40mil.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Pep’s arch-nemesis. If that’s not a sign of the complete breakdown in Guardiola and Eto’o’s relationship then we don’t know what is.
Pep went on to win a further two league titles and a Champions League trophy, as well as a host of domestic, European and world honours, before leaving in 2012.
Eto’o completed football by winning back-to-back trebles in Milan, registering career-high figures of 37 goals in all competitions across the 2010/11 campaign.
So both were in a happier place after the breakup, although Pep would suffer another messy relationship with Ibrahimovic.
No wonder all Pep listens to these days is Adele.
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