Former Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o gave an angered response when asked what it was like to play with Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou by insisting that the Argentine played with him.
Eto’o was an established striker at the Catalan giants when Messi made his senior debut for the club in the 2004-05 campaign.
The Cameroonian netted a remarkable 130 goals across five seasons at the Blaugrana – averaging 26 goals per campaign – having joined from Real Mallorca in 2004.
There was a fearsome attacking trio in place at Frank Rijkaard’s side with Eto’o spearheading a three-man attack with Ronaldinho and Ludovic Giuly on the flanks, with Messi being added to the squad.
By the time Eto’o left Barca for Inter in the summer of 2009, Messi was the star of the team but it was not always that way during their time together at the club.
Eto’o, who hung up his boots in 2019, snapped at a reporter asking what Ansu Fati could learn from the Argentine – as he himself had once played alongside him.
The former was asked: "You talk about Messi, what can he [Ansu Fati] learn from Messi? You obviously played with him."
Eto'o then responded sharply: "No. He played with me – it is different. Messi played with me. I did not play with Messi. In my time, Messi played with me. It is totally different. It is totally different."
The Cameroonian was not using the remarks as a way to disparage Messi but instead to highlight the significance of players at the time in that era.
Indeed, Eto’o has regularly spoken about how Messi is one of the greatest players – if not the greatest – ever to play the game.
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In a recent interview with La Nacion , he said: "Cristiano (Ronaldo) is another God. Together with Messi, they are the players who mark current football with the highest grades.
"But another God is coming for when Messi and Cristiano get tired of giving us these joys. That new God will be Kylian Mbappe."
Messi is currently out of contract at the Camp Nou as the club cannot register him due to being beyond their current salary budget – for the Argentine to play matches this season, multiple players must first leave Barca.
Eto’o insists that there is little chance the 33-year-old will walk away: "I can't imagine Leo with another shirt. It is his club, his home, his love.
"I do not think that his continuity is due to a question of money. Leo is Barcelona and Barcelona is Messi.
"I know [Barca club president Joan] Laporta is preparing a reliable, interesting project for him."
Messi’s deal at Barca expired on 30 June, with the season in La Liga getting underway next month.
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