Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o believes he was the reason for Pep Guardiola’s early success at the club and not Lionel Messi.
The Cameroon legend was an integral part of Barca’s famous 2008/09 treble-winning season, scoring 36 goals across all competitions.
Why has Eto’o taken credit? Five key things to know…
- Eto’o joined Barca from fellow La Liga club Mallorca in 2004.
- He would go on to score 130 goals in 199 appearances for the Blaugrana, winning six major trophies.
- Guardiola joined Barca at the start of the 2008/09 season and would sell Eto’o to Inter Milan the following year.
- Despite Eto’o having his most productive goalscoring campaign under Guardiola, the pair fell out.
- Eto’o has now taken a swipe at Guardiola for not understanding the Barcelona squad.
Guardiola marked his maiden campaign in the Camp Nou dugout with a La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and a Champions League trophy, with Eto’o the key goalscoring fulcrum to that trophy haul.
Despite this, the marksman would leave the club the following season for Inter Milan, and he has now shed light on his abrupt departure, accusing Guardiola of not understanding the players at his disposal, while also taking credit for the Man City manager’s early success.
“Pep has lived his whole life in Barcelona, but in the years I spent in Barcelona, he didn’t understand the squad. He didn’t live the life of our group,” Eto’o told beIN Sport.
“I said to Guardiola, you’ll apologise to me, because it’s me that will make Barcelona win, it’s not Messi.
“It was the situation back then. Messi would come later, but you can ask Xavi, Iniesta and others, that was my era.
“It was me that made Barca win, and Pep would ask me for forgiveness.”
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‘Inter struck the best deal in history’
Eto’o went on to turn the screw a little further by suggesting Inter Milan pulled off “the best deal in football history” when they secured his signature.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic went the other way as part of the famous swap deal in 2009, and Eto’o would go on to net 53 goals in 102 games for the Nerazzurri, clinching another Champions League title along the way.
When explaining his move to Serie A, Eto’o said: “My lawyer at the time told me that the club had put me up for sale on the transfer market. I said really? He said yes, at Guardiola’s request.
“It’s clear today, that move, and the opportunity that Pep gave me has gone down in history because it permitted me to be an even bigger part of football history by going to Inter. He allowed Inter to strike the best deal in football history.”