Antalyaspor striker Samuel Eto’o is not for sale, the Turkish club’s chairman said Saturday, ending months of speculation over a move within Turkey or overseas.
Persistent speculation linking the former Cameroon international Eto’o with a move to last season’s Super Lig champions Besiktas heightened last week when Eto’o was seen training with the Istanbul side during their camp in Antalya.
Meanwhile there had also been talk of a move for the much-travelled player back to England, where Hull City were reported to be interested.
But Antalyaspor club chairman Ali Safak Ozturk said the club had decided to hold on to Eto’o.
“Great targets are only achieved with great deeds and people,” he said, quoted by the Fanatik sports website.
“There has been various gossip about a transfer for Eto’o. We talked to the good people of our city and decided not to sell our captain, whatever happens.”
In a bizarre exchange with Eto’o at the club, he asked the player “Do you love Antalyaspor? Are you staying?” Eto’o replied “Yes” on both occasions, Fanatik said.
The former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea star had moved to Antalyaspor in June 2015 as the keystone of the bid of the club from the southern Mediterranean resort city to find national and even European success.
But success has been hard to come by even with the big name and highly-paid star and the club are currently wallowing mid-table in ninth.
He was also dropped in September after apparently accusing the club of racism on social media but then reinstated.
Eto’o also faces legal worries after Spanish prosecutors have asked he be handed a 10-year jail sentence and pay a 14.3-million-euro ($15 million) fine for alleged tax fraud from 2006 to 2009 when he was a striker at Barcelona.
Turkey is the latest stop in Eto’o’s eclectic career which has taken him to high-profile and lesser known football hotspots around the world.
He played between 2011-2013 for Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in the Caucasus region of Dagestan before the owner pulled the plug on its ambitions.