AS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Eto'o talks to AS: Mbappé, Haaland, Benzema, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona...
On the fringes of the World Football Summit, Samuel Eto'o sat down with AS for a wide ranging interview, discussing PSG, Barcelona, Real Madrid and more.
What has been your take from abroad on the avalanche of signings here in Europe this summer?
Every season is like that. The teams get stronger, others watch their players leave, this has always been the life of football ... The important clubs have an advantage because they have more money, but I am happy to know that the different leagues in Europe are going to give us a show. That we hope.
What do you think of the team that PSG has assembled?
The squad that [Nasser] Al-Khelaïfi (PSG president) and his partners have made is spectacular. Hopefully this great team wins everything they want to win.
Were you expecting them to sign Messi?
Like many, no. Few could have imagined that Messi would leave Barça. But that is football. It is such a special world that we can never anticipate what is going to happen, especially when it comes to signings.
Now they have Leo and Sergio Ramos in Paris...
They are great players, and it is a privilege for PSG to have them. As a city, Paris is one of the best in the world and as a club, it is one of those in my heart. It is a very good place for them.
If they don't win the Champions League with that team, can it be considered a failure?
These players are used to playing at teams where there is a lot of pressure. They know what it's like to play like this. After a 20-year-long career, this does not change for them. On the contrary, for PSG it is a good thing to have footballers like this in their ranks.
Eto'o: Haaland is a beast, yes. But Mbappé is Mbappé
And what about Mbappé? How come Real Madrid's offer didn’t seduce PSG?
I don't know what offer there was, but I'm happy that he's still at PSG. I have already said it: when you see that the two monsters we have, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, are already of a certain age… you sense that over time they are coming towards the end of their careers. We all want them to last even longer, because the show they are giving us is incredible. But they are older now and others will have to emerge in their place. And among those who are going to emerge is Kylian.
Haaland is a beast, yes. But Kylian is Kylian.
Will Mbappé renew at PSG or do you see him in white?
I don't know, you have to ask that in Paris (laughs).
What’s your opinion of Barça and the delicate situation at the club?
It is in an economic crisis, but that is the case in almost all the clubs except three or four ... The crisis hasn’t come from nowhere, it’s been building up for years. Still, Barça will always be Barça. What we want is for them to keep making us dream through victories.
What solution do you see for the club without Messi?
Barça has always had the youth academy, but I do not have the solution. If it were in my power, I would tell my friend Laporta (laughs) ... I don’t know. Yes it is true that the youth academy has borne Barça many fruits over these years and I hope it continues to do so.
Eto'o: Benzema not on the pedastal he deserves
And how do you see Madrid?
Madrid can boast of having the best striker in the world, Karim Benzema. People can debate about one thing or the other ... but in the end they are up there. And this year we will also have to count on them for everything. Madrid is always Madrid.
Do you think that Benzema has been eternally undervalued?
It is clear that he has not been placed on the footballing pedestal that he deserves. But that happens sometimes in football. Some players are underappreciated and others get a level of appreciation that they don’t deserve. That's life.
Do you see him as a candidate for the Ballon d'Or?
If it depended on me, he is one of the players who has deserved it over the years. But there have always been many like this: Raúl, Maldini, Roberto Carlos… very important players who never won these individual awards.
Does Vinicius's situation remind you of your own? You experienced something similar starting out in terms of scoring efficiency.
I did not experience something similar ... (laughs). I've always scored goals! If Madrid signs you, it is because they know you can play with that pressure and because you can contribute. He is a good player. If he is at Madrid it is because he is worth it. Scoring goals for strikers is a matter of streaks. Sometimes it doesn't go your way. I, in my time, didn't think much about that. The recipe is work and working on the finish. In the end it will work out.
Has there been a change of style in football? Less tiki-taka and more speed?
The tiki-taka lives on. Perhaps it is not like before, but we have seen the Spain of Luis Enrique at Euro 2020. Many said: "They don't play, they don't play." And they taught us a football lesson with 18-year-old players. That means the tiki-taka is there. There are ideas. People want to improve and the coaches see football differently. As a fan I like to see teams that play well and want to score more goals than the opponent.
You played under Guardiola and Mourinho, representatives of two very different ideas.
With Guardiola in his first year we won everything, but Pep had an incredible team. With Mourinho it was something else. He showed us that with other types of players you can also win. It was a pleasure to play for him at Inter. It’s difficult as an Inter fan to assimilate that he has gone to Roma (laughs)… But hey, he is a friend. I have to support him.