Lyon join race to sign Barcelona reject Eto'o

July 27, 2008

Lyon has emerged as a possible destination for unwanted Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o after Les Gones president Jean-Michel Aulas revealed he had started talks with the Catalan club.

A host of sides have been linked with the prolific Cameroon international, who has been told he can leave the Nou Camp.

Barca sporting director Txiki Begiristain insists they have not received any formal offer for the 27-year-old, but Aulas claims to have spoken to his Catalan counterpart Joan Laporta about the forward even though the French club may struggle to afford his wages.

'I've already spoken to Joan Laporta (about Eto'o),' Aulas told French newspaper L'Equipe. 'Everything depends on (Lyon coach) Claude (Puel). If he tells us tomorrow that to win the Champions League we need Eto'o or (Chelsea forward Didier) Drogba we'll try to get them, even if we'd be living a little above our means.'

Reports in Spain on Saturday claimed Barca would try and use Eto'o as a bargaining chip in an attempt to lure long-term target Karim Benzema away from the Stade Gerland.

However, an exchange deal may be unlikely after Aulas added: 'Our priority this year was to keep hold of Karim.'

Aulas also added that Eto'o came close to joining the seven-times French champions before joining Barcelona.

'Samuel was about to join us four years ago, while he was at Mallorca,' he revealed. 'If he wants to come here tomorrow, Claude Puel will be delighted, and we have the capacity to do it.'

But Samuel Eto'o's agent has rubbished the reports.

'No-one from Barca has said anything about this to us and neither have Lyon got in contact with me about this,' he told Spanish sports daily El Mundo Deportivo. 'To talk now about this is to speculate. We have not received any interesting offer.'

Mesalles claims the 27-year-old could still stay at the Nou Camp and, moreover, that it would be easy for him to do so.

'He doesn't have to anything,' he added. 'He only has to work as he has been doing and if it is the club who don't want him they should have already taken care of looking for a move for him. They haven't given us any deadline to look for a team and we are in no rush.'