Goalscorers, that's the keyword. Whatever Samuel Eto'o may or may not be, he is a natural goalscorer. For whichever club he has played, under whatever circumstances, the Cameroonian international striker has always scored. Even when he has been injured or been playing for modest Real , the art of scoring has never deserted the 28-year-old.
Detractors suggest that Eto'o could score as many goals as he did at Barcelona because he played for two of the best Barca sides in history, first getting the supplies from Deco and Ronaldinho and now getting at the end of Thierry Henry, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi's passes. Of course, playing as the central and main striker in a 4-3-3 formation helps and so does the 'feeding' by top class attacking players, but to denigrate Eto'o as simply the obtrusive beneficiary of others' hard work would be to suggest that during your schooldays you had the easiest task in the world of only studying while your parents did everything else for you.
Just like last summer, Barcelona have cast the Cameroonian into the basket labeled ‘unwantables’. 30 Liga goals and 4 Champions League hits have apparently failed to endear Eto'o to coach Pep Guardiola, who is interested in getting on board Eto'o's perfect replacement David Villa. The three times African Player of the Year has been linked with a host of clubs but still nothing concrete has been established yet.
Manchester City, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Manchester United are the clubs Eto'o has been linked with, and while City have officially shunned their interest in the player eventually losing their patience in the protracted transfer saga that was going pretty much nowhere, Milan cannot afford Eto'o's wages and Inter have decided not to go for a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-Samuel Eto’o swap, Manchester United have emerged as the most likely club to take on board the star striker in recent weeks.
Usually, one club's loss is another club's gain but in this case Barcelona's loss of Samuel Eto’o would be theirs (but only if they can secure the signature of Villa) as well as Manchester United's gain.
For one, Manchester United have never really replaced Ruud van Nistelrooy since he was sold to Real Madrid in the 2006 summer. In the Dutchman, United had probably the most clinical goalscorer in the world best defined as a one-shot-one-goal striker who remains United's all-time leading marksman in Europe. True, after he left, the reigning Premier League champions didn't struggle for goals as a certain Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to become as much a creator of goals as a scorer of them, setting a new landmark in the 2007-2008 season when he hit no fewer than 42 goals in all competitions, but bar the Portuguese there was no one who could really score goals frequently.
Now that Ronaldo, so often played as a striker, has been sold to the same Real Madrid whom Sir Alex insisted he wouldn't even sell a virus to, the question is: who will score the goals for Sir Alex's side?
Dimitar Berbatov, as excellent a player he is, couldn't get into double figures in the league last season, Wayne Rooney's best strength doesn't lie in scoring goals, Michael Owen is a gamble whose goals have dried up and Carlos Tevez has left. Admitted, the way that United play, Ji-Sung Park, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic all get goals but who will score 20-25 goals in the league for United?
Enter Samuel Eto'o, goalscorer supreme and two times Champions League winner.
The 28-year-old is a legendary goalscorer who will hit 20 league goals in a season with ease. And if the service is great, as was at Barcelona last season, he can add 10 more to his tally. Eto'o's technical ability might be inferior to that of David Villa and he doesn't necessary make football a showboating stuff but if Eto'o is anything, then he's an athlete.
The Cameroonian's direct run at defenders, delicately ruthless inter-play with his teammates and ability to generate moves that would lead to his side scoring are facets that would suit Manchester United greatly. Then of course, there is Eto'o's keen eye for goal as he can score from anywhere and with any part of his body: left foot, right foot and head. A marvelous player who might miss a chance or two at times, Eto'o guarantees goals and lots of them.
Which is why Manchester United could do themselves a huge favour by signing Samuel Eto'o. They have been linked with a number of other top class strikers but Eto'o answers their call like no other. Sergio Aguero, defined by many as the 'closest thing to a Romario', won't probably leave Atletico Madrid this summer and neither would Zlatan Ibrahimovic leave Inter Milan (at least for Old Trafford); Luis Fabiano is a brilliant targetman but not an ‘A class’ striker, Klass-Jan Huntelaar has Van Nistelrooy-esque accuracy but would rely heavily on service. Eto'o appears to be the best striker available in the market for United; his mobility would be a boon to their gameplan.
Eto'o's personality, as everyone knows, is tenacious but in Sir Alex he would meet arguably the best man-manager in the English game who in his time has worked with more difficult and high profile characters. Personal terms and weekly wage might be a concern but United are one of the richest clubs in the world and surely they can afford to pay the salary of one of the two best strikers in the world.
But whether they do so or not remains to be seen.