Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o is likely to make a summer move to Manchester United, but don’t expect the deal to be sealed anytime soon, if reports in today’s Daily Telegraph are to be believed. The Cameroon striker, having seen a move to Manchester City collapse amid fighting over money, is reportedly willing to accept a large reduction in the wage on offer at Eastlands in order to secure Champions League football next season. With his bridges burnt at Camp Nou and Eastlands – and few suitors willing to match the striker’s financial demands – United are now head of the queue according to reports.
This is a suprise revaltion – after all Eto’o was expected to agreed a £25 million, £200,000 per week, deal to move to Eastlands. However, his apparent demand for half the fee from Barcelona scuppered the deal, with City pulling out late last week. The striker, who is in the final year of his contact at Barcelona, now has few viable options other than United.
While the reasoning in today’s Telegraph is sound, its hard to envision United spending huge amounts of money on a 28 year-old forward who will miss six crucial weeks of next season at the African Nations Championship. Like many in the game, manager Sir Alex Ferguson is a known admirer, but with United concentrating on younger, cheaper targets, Eto’o is only likely to move to Old Trafford if the Reds hold out for a substantial reduction in the proposed fee. A scenario in which United may need to hold their nerve until the final day of the transfer window.
United may have substantial funds in the bank following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo and Frazier Campbell this summer, but the club was believed to have a policy against spending large sums on players they have no hope of making a return on.
Eto’o to United is only a realistic scenarnio if the player holds out for a move to Manchester as his best option. While United may take a gamble on the player if the fee drops to below £15 million, it must be doubtful that the player move for football rather than money. Given that Eto’o has already rejected £100,000 per week to stay in Barcelona, it would seem unlikely.
If Eto’o does move to Old Trafford, the player will have to buck the trend in which the majority of talent is heading to or remaining in Spain. With tax at a maximum of 23% in Spain, compared to 50% tax plus 11% NI in the UK for high earners like footballers, the trend may be towards a drain of talent away from the Premier League in the coming years. Indeed, when players as talentless as Jermaine Pennant can earn the equivalent of £80,000 per week in Spain, then we know the era of Premier League dominance of Europe is now at an end.
In the meantime United fans will continue to wait and see if the club is able to sign up a big name replacement for Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.[TABLE=4]