Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Red Devils Racing Chelsea for Samuel Eto'o

Ben Blackmore@@Blackmore_BRFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2013

KASPIYSK, RUSSIA - MAY 04: Lacina Traore (L) FC Anzhi Makhachkala celebrates with team-mate Samuel Eto'o after scoring a goal during the Russian Premier League match between FC Anzhi Makhachkala and FC Rubin Kazan at the Anzhi Arena Stadium on May 04, 2013 in Kaspiysk, Russia.  (Photo by Sergey Rasulov Jr/Epsilon/Getty Images)
Epsilon/Getty Images

The agent of Samuel Eto’o predicts Chelsea or Manchester United are the most likely destinations for the Anzhi Makhachkala striker, revealing to Sportmediaset TV via Ben Gladwell of ESPN that Inter Milan are third in the race for the Cameroonian.

Eto’o is very much associated with the protracted Wayne Rooney-to-Chelsea transfer saga this summer, and, according to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, is viewed as Chelsea’s back-up option should they fail to land the England man. Also, according to a story published in ESPN, Eto'o is also United’s planned replacement if Rooney leaves.

Serie A giants Inter are the other club in the mix, but Marcus Christenson of The Guardian quotes agent Claudio Vigorelli pouring cold water on the prospect of Eto’o’s return to Italy: "I’d say there is a 30 percent chance of Eto’o returning to Inter," said Vigorelli.

Eto’o is one of the high-profile names Anzhi want off their books as they attempt to introduce a new policy at the club, which will promote the cultivation of homegrown talent over mega-money signings.

The former Barcelona man confirmed last week his interest in linking back up with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho—under whom he played at Inter. John Drayton of the Daily Mail provides the quotes:

There is only one Jose Mourinho. I have played under a lot of great coaches - but there is no other character in the game like Jose. 

He is one of the best coaches in the world and we had a lot of success together at Inter Milan. I would like to have the chance to play under him again because it is never boring when Jose is around. 

Of course Chelsea are a great team and when we have all the offers on the table then I will discuss with my agent and see what my next step is.

Mourinho’s number one target all summer has been United forward Rooney

It's expected that he will make a third offer—this time in the region of £40 million. As reported by Football Italia, that bid could be funded by the reported switch of Demba Ba to Roma.

However, if United deny their title rivals the purchase of Rooney, Eto’o would represent a suitable short-term solution to boost Chelsea’s striking power prior to the closure of the transfer window. The departure of Ba would leave them only with Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku as forward options.

ESPN reports United will move to the head of the queue for the 32-year-old if they opt to part company with Rooney, who was accused of showing a lack of enthusiasm when the champions celebrated Robin van Persie’s second goal at Swansea in their opening game.

Inter, according to Vigorelli, will only become Eto’o's destination should a move to the Premier League break down. He scored 33 goals in 67 games during his first spell in Italy.

The outcome will be dictated first by Rooney’s whereabouts at the end of the window, and then by how keen Eto’o is to remain a first-team regular. At United he would almost certainly play second fiddle to van Persie, whereas Chelsea and Inter both appear to be in need of a prolific frontman.