Signing players in the twilight of their career who have sampled illustrious glories always comes with a measure of risk. Having achieved all of their major ambitions, does the desire still linger? Do they still have the class to cut it at the top level? Can they help inspire a supposed lesser side to bigger and better things?
These kinds of questions were asked of Samuel Eto’o when it was announced the veteran striker would be joining Everton on a two-year deal. After all, the Cameroonian hadn’t really sparkled at the forefront of Chelsea’s team during his first Premier League campaign and at the age of 33, perhaps the three-time Champions League winner was a player after one last payday.
But in the infancy of his time as a Toffee, the former Barcelona and Internazionale striker has a unanimously positive impression. His latest crucial intervention came in Everton’s 2-1 victory over West Ham, in which an invigorated Eto’o emerged from the bench to light up Goodison Park and assist Leon Osman’s match winning goal.
It wasn’t the first time Eto’o has made a critical impact on proceedings in Everton blue. The signs were encouraging in his first ever appearance at Goodison Park when he made a classy goalscoring cameo against former club Chelsea. Since the club’s No. 5 made his debut for the Toffees, he’s gone on to score four goals and notch two assists.
But his contribution extends beyond statistics. When on the pitch, Eto’o is a like the conductor in an orchestra. The 33-year-old is in constant conversation with his teammates, showing where he wants the ball played and even when he’s in possession, Eto’o is pointing where runs should be made. He’s a player that oozes class with every touch, pass and dribble.
Roberto Martinez has described the Cameroon international as a “gift from the footballing Gods” for the football club and while Eto’o may not possess the blistering dynamism that made him one of the most feared centre forward players on the planet in Catalonia and Milan, he’s adapted his game in a distinguished manner that only the very best can.
For a young player like Romelu Lukaku, who has been semi-prolific but remains a little rough around the edges, there could be no better role model. There is so much nous for the burly 21-year-old to tap into and it’s encouraging for Evertonians that the former Chelsea pairing seem to have struck up a major affinity on and off the pitch.