Barcelona yet to decide on future of Eto'o

August 8, 2008

Barcelona president Joan Laporta claims Samuel Eto'o could still be at the Nou Camp next season.

Eto'o was one of three high-profile players - Deco and Ronaldinho being the others - to be told their services were no longer required when new coach Pep Guardiola outlined his intention to revamp the squad for the new season.

However, while the other two players have since departed, the Cameroon forward remains at the Catalan giants.

Eto'o has been in fine pre-season form, scoring four goals in the past two friendlies, and Laporta admits if he continues in that vein he could be a crucial part of the Barca team next season.

'We will decide before the Champions League qualifiers (August 12/13),' he told ESPN. 'The coach wanted to take a while to observe the player's attitude.

'I always said he would leave if he found a team, but that hasn't happened and now the coach will do what is best for Barca.

'Personally, I see that Eto'o has a good attitude and that he has recovered the physical fitness that he always had.

'I will respect the decision which the sporting director (Txiki Begiristain) takes.'

Laporta also spoke out about the tug of war between Barca and the Argentinian Football Association over Lionel Messi's participation in the Olympics.

The 21-year-old rushed off to Beijing after a FIFA ruling decided all players under 23 must be allowed to participate in the Beijing Games.

That was overturned on Wednesday by the Court of Arbitration in Sport, although the club have decided to allow Messi to remain at the Games, a decision which Laporta has praised.

'There was a sentence which gave the right to Barcelona's complaints and it is Barcelona who decide whether to release him or not,' he said.

'We are very satisfied because they said we were right and it was very important to establish the criteria of the regulations.

'With this decision there are no losers nor winners. I hope it will be a great Olympics and with regards to the football I know we will see a great spectacle. I will be an Argentina fan.

'Messi's attitude has been impeccable. He had an exquisite conduct outside of the internal conflict that he had.

'On one hand there was the excitement to play for Argentina and on the other, to defend Barca's colours in the Champions League qualifiers.

'The player, as always, was excellent.'

Begiristain outlined the agreement Barca have come to with the AFA to allow their star player to remain in Beijing.

'We came to a verbal agreement with (AFA president Julio) Grondona so that they have the responsibility of the medical insurance in case Messi injures himself,' he said.

'Moreover, They promised me they wouldn't call up the forward for any of the friendlies this season.''