Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Samuel Eto'o moves to Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala

Cameroon forward Samuel Eto'o has moved from Serie A's Inter Milan to Russian Premier League side Anzhi Makhachkala, bringing to an end a two-year Italian sojourn which saw him win the Chammpions' League for the third time.

He joins a team which since an ownership change early this year has made a number of audacious bid for stars, most notably for Brazilian starlet Neymar.

With his transfer now confirmed, Eto'o will play alongside fellow high-paid players such as Russia's Yuri Zhirkov, formerly of Chelsea; Hungary forward Balasz Dzsudzsak and immortal Brazilian left back Roberto Carlos. Anzhi, in their second year back in the Russian Premier League, have spent a reported €25 million of new owner Suleyman Kerimov's hard-earned billions on the four-time African Player of the Year. The deal will make him amongst - if not the - highest paid player in the world.

At age 30 and having achieved (nearly) everything possible for an African player, he has agreed a deal to move to a region of Russia which has developed a reputation for violence. Russia, with a rapidly improving top division should provide enough challenges for Eto'o and a fiscal package far in excess of what he'd be able to earn at the Nerazzurri.

Though he has signed, any security concerns the Cameroon national may harbor have not been totally assuaged. Roberto Carlos recently came out saying the region's security situation was far improved and overstated - however this must be superimposed upon his own experience after receiving death threats while playing for Corinthians. This article from the Independent explains the situation particularly well.

Russian football has also suffered from outbreaks of racial intolerance. Having faced such bigotry before, Eto'o may have to do so again. In essence, he has sacrificed competition and perhaps an element of security by signing on in Dagestan. If he feels comfortable with rumours of armed insurgency, then the only sacrifice is of competition.

Samuel Eto'o has won everything there is to win: an Olympic Gold Medal, two European trebles and three UCL wins amongst numerous domestic titles and cups. When Inter Milan shaping up as a good but not particularly great side this year, what does he have to fuel his competitive instincts? Better to take the money - and the prospect of building a winner - in Russia.

For him, one final, massive, payday is worth any potential risks.

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