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Eto´o to stay at Barcelona - report

10 August 2008 20:35

MADRID (AFP) - Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o, who was deemed surplus by Barcelona's new coach Pep Guardiola in June, will be staying at the Spanish giants after all, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Shortly after he was named as Frank Rijkaard's replacement in June, Guardiola announced that he was not counting on Eto'o and two other high-profile players -- Deco and Ronaldinho -- for the upcoming season.

But Barcelona-based sports daily El Mundo Deportivo reported Sunday in its online edition that Guardiola has come around and has decided to keep Eto'o, Barcelona's top scorer in the Spanish league last year with 16 goals.

"Aside from market conditions, which did not offer Barcelona a clear opportunity to sing one of the few strikers with the capacity to compete with Eto'o, his performance in the pre-season cannot be underestimated," it said.

Guardiola reached the decision not to sell Eto'o, who signed from Mallorca in 2004, after talking to the team's captains, it said.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta and the club's technical director Txiki Begiristain backed the decision, the newspaper added.

Earlier this month Begiristain said that at least "four or five big clubs" were interested in signing Eto'o but there had been no official offers yet.

Barcelona are under pressure to make a decision because if they use Eto'o during their Champions League qualifier on Wednesday against Poland's Wisla Krakow, the player will not be able to represent another club in the tournament competition if he moves eventually.

That would make any potential transfer deal later this season much more difficult.

Last week Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol indicated he would like to see the the three-times African Player of the Year stay at the club.

"He is one of the best in the world. Now he is just another member of the squad and is working like normal with a lot of desire and ambition. Things are like any other year," he said.

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Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +65 93
2 38 +79 90
3 38 +43 78
4 38 +20 72
5 38 +23 67

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