Pichichi, indomitable lion, ticking time-bomb. Samuel Etoâ€™o is still the big African elephant in the Barcelona locker room. While Leo Messi has been the bulls-eye for most of the praise heaped on this BarÃ§a squad, Etoâ€™o leads the chase for the European Golden Boot honor with 23 goals in 23 games (although heâ€™s only played 22.) Â Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan and Busquets have all been extended through 2014 and with Puyol, Marquez, Valdes, Gudjohnsen and Etoâ€™o all set to expire in 2010, the Cameroon striker and the Catalan center-back top the priorities list.
A lot has changed since last summer, when Pep Guardiola said Ronaldinho, Deco and Etoâ€™o were not in his plans, and then subsequently failed in his bid to ship the Cameroon striker out in the clearance sale that saw Dinho and Deco sent to Milan and Chelsea. Etoâ€™o has discovered the best version of himself under Guardiola. The cynic will point out that it happens to coincide with his contract year, but weâ€™ll let that slide and attribute it to the improved atmosphere in the Camp Nou locker room. Â
There are 15 games left in the campaign and Etoâ€™o is just three goals shy of his best season total (26 in â€™05-06.) Although a long-shot, he is on pace to reach 38, which would break Ronaldoâ€™s record (34 in â€™96-â€™97) for a BarÃ§a striker and tie Telmo Zarra (Athletic â€™50-51) and Hugo Sanchez (Madrid â€™89-90) for the league record.
David Villa, Benzema, Adebayor, Droba, Ibrahimovic and Mario Gomez were all mentioned as long-term replacements for Etoâ€™o. And yet, only Gomez, Adebayor and Benzema are younger. At 27, Etoâ€™o still has plenty of soccer left in his legs and managed to outshine all six of the aforementioned stars. Still, the talk of â€˜potential replacementsâ€™ will not go away. Be it because of his volatile personality, scattered off-field issues, or reasons that remain foreign to me, many culÃ©s are still clamoring for a new â€˜9.â€™
Feel free to tell me why. As always, you can share your thoughts below.
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