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Jul 20, 2009

Guardiola: Time is right for Eto'o to leave Barca

Pep Guardiola has confirmed striker Samuel Eto'o is surplus to requirements at Barcelona.

Eto'o is due in Milan this week for talks with Inter, after the club agreed a fee of €45m for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Alexander Hleb will also join Inter on loan as part of the deal.

Guardiola, who won the treble in his first year as Barca coach, thinks it is the right time for Eto'o to go. "I am convinced that the best thing for Barca is for Eto'o to leave,'' he said. "Could I be mistaken? Maybe so.

"But I am here to make these decisions. I feel it is the best for the team, for the club, but I don't dare say for Samuel. I am very grateful to Samuel, not just for this year, but for the five years he spent here. We'll see how the situation ends.''

"Without him we wouldn't have achieved what we achieved last year,'' added Guardiola. "There are no footballing or personal reasons or anything about his behaviour. It's simply a question of 'feeling', and that's how I feel.

"I think you have to change things. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's my responsibility. It's my decision. There are no behavioural reasons, you shouldn't look for them. I am not here to change anyone's character, but I can decide on which players I want to count on for the season.

"After what we won, we had to change the dressing room. I took this decision from my experience as a footballer.''

Barca president Joan Laporta admitted earlier he did not know what would happen if Eto'o decided not to move to the San Siro. However, Guardiola claims that if the player remained on Barca's books they would end their attempt to sign Ibrahimovic.

"Each player has his own situation and today, apart from Madrid who have brought in everyone, the world is as it is because it costs a lot to sign players,'' he said. "What will happen in the next few days no one knows.

"We are rich but not so much. They are two very important players and to have 'overbooking' in such an important position is not good in the long term. I can't let this situation come about.

"I have not spoken to him (Eto'o), there are other people in charge who are used to doing so. Does he feel betrayed? I hope not. You don't know what will happen and who knows he could still be with us in training on the 27th.''

Earlier, Laporta mirrored his coach's assertion that the time is right for Eto'o to move on.

He said: "As a result of a conversation that I had with Eto'o before my meeting with (Inter president Massimo) Moratti, we understood that it was time to look for a team for him and 24 hours later the possibility of going to Inter came up.

"Eto'o will go to a club where they will also treat him with respect. We have come to an agreement with Inter about the fee and we are waiting for Inter to come to an agreement with Eto'o and us with Ibrahimovic.

"I talked to Eto'o after the meeting with Moratti that night and then Inter talked with his agent and Mourinho talked to Eto'o.''

If the deal goes through, Ibrahimovic would be Barca's second summer signing and their first big-money move, following the €4.5m deal for Maxwell.

However, Laporta insists they are not set to follow in the footsteps of bitter rivals Real Madrid who have shelled out over €200m bringing in Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Raul Albiol.

"It's a different sort of deal, because it's based around different financial amounts, which are fairly reasonable,'' he said.

Laporta also admitted he is at a loss as to why Valencia striker David Villa's proposed move to the Nou Camp collapsed. "Incomprehensibly, our offer was not accepted by Valencia,'' he said.

"We had information that said that the player had word that, for a determined amount, he could leave the club. And Barca offered this amount and more. That's why I say incomprehensibly.''

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