London – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday that Samuel Eto'o may remain at the club next season, despite reports he could return to Spain when his contract expires in June.
Mourinho would like to keep the 32-year-old former Mallorca and Barcelona striker, but he says that no final decision will be taken by player or club until nearer the end of the current campaign.
With Fernando Torres out for two more weeks with a knee injury, Eto'o has become the London club's principal striker at a decisive phase in the season.
And the Chelsea manager said: “We have a very trustful relationship with him.
“He's the kind of guy that, with his career, he feels very free and very comfortable making decisions just for himself. He feels good, feels happy.
“He wants to play for titles. He decided to come here to the Premier League to Chelsea, so Samuel is enjoying his career until the end.
“We'll see what he wants to do at the end of the season. Maybe he wants to go to Mallorca, as he promised his son. Maybe he wants to stay with us, or go and finish his career at Inter (Milan).
“He doesn't need titles, he doesn't need money.”
Asked if he had ruled out Eto'o staying put, Mourinho said: “Of course not. He's a big player, even if he doesn't score 25 goals, because his contribution to the team is very high. We are happy.”
Cameroon star Eto'o has struck eight goals since joining Chelsea following a spell at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, including a hat-trick in the recent 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
Chelsea will continue their Premier League title challenge when West Ham United visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
New signing Mohamed Salah, the 21-year-old Egyptian winger, will not be available following his arrival from Basel as Mourinho's side seek a sixth successive league win.
Chelsea trailed leaders Arsenal by two points ahead of the mid-week matches, but Mourinho believes that it is too early to describe his team as potential champions.
“We are improving a lot – the team, the players – so the future is good,” he said. “We are going in a good direction. But this season? I don't think so.”
He added: “I expect to win the next match. We go like this. We try and expect to win the next match.
“It doesn't matter if the next match is against a Championship (second-tier) team in the FA Cup, or a Champions League match against a giant. We are going always to try and win the next match.
“But what we need, as a guarantee, is the evolution of the team. This must be a guarantee. If we see that our team is the same or even worse than it was in September, that's a big problem.
“If we see that players like (Eden) Hazard, Oscar and Willian and (Cesar) Azpilicueta are not better now than they were six months ago, that's a big problem. These are things that we need. It's compulsory.
“The evolution of the team and players is compulsory. Results are a consequence of the evolution. We are doing fine. Let's see what happens. But we always want to win the next match. That's our culture.
“You will ask me about playing Manchester City next (on February 3); a stadium and a team where everyone loses (by) four, five or six. I'll tell you we want to win.” – Sapa-AFP