Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola has changed his mind about Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o and said Tuesday that he intends to keep the forward in his team, the dpa reported.
"I am thrilled with him," Guardiola said of Eto'o's performance in Barcelona's pre-season training.
At his official presentation as the team's coach on June 17, Guardiola said he did not want to keep Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto'o in his squad. The first two have been traded off to Milan and Chelsea, respectively.
"I said what I said, but I also said that if he stayed he would be treated fairly and with respect, and that we would work to get back the best Samuel," Guardiola explained Tuesday.
He said it was his duty to "get a performance out of every player" in his squad.
"From the first day I have treated (Eto'o) like every other player, and I can only express my satisfaction with him. It is part of my job to make decisions, and now I am deciding that Eto'o stays with us," Guardiola said.
He praised the striker's behaviour "both on and off the pitch." During the pre-season, Eto'o did not talk to the media and was the team's top scorer, with five goals.
Another factor for the change of heart might have been the absence of offers for the brilliant but controversial player.
But the coach said: "Eto'o is staying because he wants to and because I want him to."
Eto'o is likely to be on the starting line-up Wednesday in Barcelona's home game against Wisla Krakow in the Champions League qualifying round. He will face the fans who booed him at last season's last game.