MADRID, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Barcelona say that leading striker Samuel Eto'o will not hook up with the Cameroon squad for the African Nations Cup until after his side play Athletic Bilbao in the league on January 15.
The Spanish champions said that Eto'o, who has notched up 17 goals in 17 league games this season, had left his departure until the last minute in order to play as many games as possible with his club.
However, they said that the player had decided against returning to Spain to play isolated club games during the tournament in order to avoid unnecessary fatigue.
The 24-year-old will miss at least two league matches as well a potential King's Cup quarter-final tie while Cameroon play their group matches against Togo, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If Cameroon reach the final he will miss another league game and both legs of the King's Cup semi-final, should Barcelona get that far in the knockout competition.
The tournament starts in Egypt on January 20.