Jose Mourinho says that Samuel Eto’o will make his Chelsea debut away to Everton on Saturday, as he also reflected on his improved relationship with the striker, but insisted there is absolutely no issue with Juan Mata.
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Eto’o gave an interview last week in which he spoke of his previous anger towards Mourinho when the striker was at Barcelona and the manager at Chelsea in his first spell. Their relationship became so strong at Internazionale, however, that the Portuguese coach saw Eto’o as the next choice after Wayne Rooney and essential to Chelsea’s style of play. Mourinho particularly praised his “appetite for goals”.
“He will be selected and, when you are selected and you are a striker, normally you play," Mourinho confirmed. "You start the game or finish the game. My attacking players normally when I select them they play because it’s the area I make most changes in the match. So, normally, he will play his first minutes for Chelsea.
“I think he is a player that can fit into the style of play we want in our game, which is a bit contradictory to the style and philosophy in the Premier League. We are not any more a physical team, we are a team that wants to use the abilities of our attacking players in a different way. Technically, he is very good, his movement is good, he is intelligent, he knows the kind of movement he has to make and give continuity to the attacking game.
“He has a natural appetite for goals and he gives experience to a team. From the midfield to the forward areas, Fernando [Torres] is the oldest and he is a young guy. The rest are young. Schurrle, [Eden] Hazard, Oscar all under 22. So I think Samuel is a player to add experience to that area.”
Mourinho laughed when Eto’o’s quotes about their previously acrimonious relationship was brought up.
“I know he felt like that! You have to be experienced and smart. You have to know the football world is very small," he explained. "Sometimes you say things and a few years later you have a difficult situation, so it’s fine.
“At the beginning of my career I had a situation with Deco who was at Porto when I was at Leiria. In November we played and we exchanged some hot words and two weeks later I was Porto manager. I came into the dressing room and the first thing I did was look at Deco and he was looking at his knees.
“So, in football, you have these situations but we all know, when we are on the same side, everything changes. And, at Inter, it was a golden moment for me [and Eto’o].”
Mourinho also maintained there is absolutely no issue with Mata, despite the player featuring little in the first month of the new regime.
“Where is he? He is in the same plans as all the others," Mourinho insisted. "He is a player I like very much, that’s why he’s here. He is a player I trust a lot and will fight for position like everybody else. Sometimes he will start, sometimes on the bench and sometimes he may not be selected because the squad is so competitive.
"With a match every three days, I will make 'strange' decisions to your eyes but because I think further than the next match and I want to have him at his maximum level. I want the players only to think about the next match but I have to look beyond that.”
Mourinho also says he is looking to the long-term with Romelu Lukaku, who has been loaned to Everton.
“It was not so hard [to loan him out] because it was something he was very keen to do do," he explained. "The kid wants to play every weekend. I don’t know if Roberto [Martinez] promised him that but he’s more keen on that than competing with other big players every week. He’s a great kid and that’s why I don’t want to sell him and didn’t when we had proposals to do it.
"We believe he’s a player for many years here but he was first to open the door. When the player is happy to go and we got Samuel, it was a good way to resolve the situation. We kept three experienced players for a position that demands a lot in the Premier League but let him go, and go happy.”