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The one that got away: Tottenham Hotspur and Samuel Eto’o

Though the transfer window has shut, the insatiable need for the market rumbles on around the footballing globe, such is the crazy amount of interest the proverbial ‘silly season’ brings to fans.

Indeed, like it or not, transfers and everything that goes with them are one of the major strands of the general footballing narrative. Especially in the digital age, where every supporter can be clued up about potential incomings or outgoings very quickly.

However, what about those mega deals that didn’t quite come off? Here, in our The one who got away series, we’ll take a look at perhaps the most surprising transfers to have fallen at the final hurdle.

Tottenham – Samuel Eto’o – 2001

Writing on Bleacher Report back in 2014, former Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle revealed he was keen to bring Cameroonian forward Samuel Eto’o to North London. Indeed, back in 2001, the African superstar hadn’t yet hit the heights he’d soar at during his stints with Barcelona and Inter Milan, though was certainly a hot prospect.

Hoddle reportedly wanted to make Eto’o one of his first signings at White Hart Lane in 2001 when the striker was cutting his teeth with Real Mallorca. A product of the Real Madrid youth academy, the Cameroon star found it hard to break into the first-team at the Santiago Bernabeu, moving to Real Mallorca to get his chance.

By 2001, he was one of the most exciting marksmen in the world but his career-defining move to Barcelona was still three years off, so there was certainly a chance to get him. In fact, as Hoddle wrote, he felt he had ‘lined up’ a swoop for the striker, who would have arrived into an attacking line featuring the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Les Ferdinand.

That kind of grounding and experience would really have helped Eto’o find his feet in England, as well as give Hoddle the kind of hard-working, yet potent, attacker fans would adore.

However, Hoddle writes his attempts to land the future double-treble winner were ‘thwarted’ due to some negative scouting reports he’d heard, though stressed that Daniel Levy wasn’t the problem.

‘Before anyone jumps to conclusions, this is not something to which I am pointing a finger at the chairman Daniel Levy”, he makes a point of writing.

Levy is often either lauded or blamed for the varying success of Tottenham’s transfer activity. When deals work, he’s a genius, when summers don’t go to plan – as the most recent one didn’t – he’s not prepared to back his club. Though perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle, it seems this is a problem Tottenham have suffered for years, pointing to a more systematic issue, rather than an individual one.

Eto’o would ultimately move to England with Chelsea and Everton in the autumn of his career before continuing his seemingly never-ending, world-touring, extended retirement party rolled on but things could have been so different.

The one that got away: Tottenham Hotspur and Samuel Eto’o
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