Samuel Eto’o might be joining Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia. For how much you say? €20 Million a year. Making him the highest paid footballer in the world. Heck, besides Alex Rodriguez, he might be the highest paid athlete in the world in team sports. He’ll have famous company there, for example Roberto Carlos, who’s earning peanuts compared to what Eto’o has coming.
Sulyman Kerimov is rich, really rich. He’s brought up Makhachkala for the pride of Dagestan. Their first season in the to flight ended with a mid table finish. This year, 19 games into the season, Makhachkala are fourth, and with the money invested might be soon a Champions League member, at least as long as this ambitious projects continues to succeed and develop.
But Eto’o? Roberto Carlos is 38, way past his prime and any hope of playing regularly for a big European club. A few more years, a few more fat checks to the bank account before he retires. In Russia, and in Turkey before that, Carlos can play as much as he likes. The big problem for him, and in general for foreign players in Russia, is racism. Not from his own fans, but on almost every away pitch he visits. It won’t be any different for Samuel Eto’o.
Eto’o famously refused to continue playing during a Barcelona – Zaragoza game a few years back, leaving the pitch only to return after some persuasion from his teammates. It happened in Italy as well, during a game against Cagliari, where the match was stopped for a few minutes.
Eto’o has achievement pretty much everything possible – League titles, the Champions League three times, including scoring in the final twice, the pichichi. He’s only 30, still in his prime, or at the end of it, and taking up a deal like that is signaling – I’ve had enough with competing at the highest level, I just want to make money before I retire. It’s hard to refuse 20 Million, but making 10 while playing in a better league, for more fans, with better players, has to mean something. I hope it still does.