Jose Mourinho has admitted Samuel Eto'o has yet to adjust fully to life in the Premier League with Chelsea. The Cameroonian striker is still looking for his first goal for the Blues following his August move from Anzhi Makhachkala.
Eto'o is expected to lead Chelsea's attack at Norwich City this weekend in place of Fernando Torres, who is set to be sidelined for three weeks with a knee ligament injury. If the 32-year-old is involved from the kick-off at Carrow Road on Sunday, it will be his third league start and his fifth appearance for the London side in all competitions.
Mourinho, speaking to reporters at Chelsea's Cobham training ground on Friday, said the forward had lost sharpness as a result of playing in Russia.
"The player I know, the professional I know... what happened in Russia in the last two-and-a-half years, I don't know," said the Portuguese, who had Eto'o under him at Inter Milan. "Normally when a player is one of the top players in Europe and then goes to Anzhi, the pressure goes down, the motivation and physical condition and sharpness goes down. Now he's back in top European football and needs a bit of time to find that sharpness.
"He's playing a lot. He played 80 minutes this week and he is getting his form and an understanding of where he is. But the Premier League is a different picture. So give him a little bit of time."
Mourinho said Eto'o had to adapt his game in order to keep playing at the highest level.
"Players transform themselves with years," said the former Real Madrid coach. "They get stronger in some aspects of their game, but lose other strengths.
"At Inter he played wide and came inside, very fast, and I don't think can play the same way. He must be a more static player, a pure No9. Players have to adapt to their age, potential and condition."
No loan for De Bruyne
Mourinho, meanwhile, insisted Kevin de Bruyne will not be going out on loan despite losing his place in the matchday squad for the UEFA Champions League victory over Steaua Bucharest in midweek. The Belgium international has been linked with a January return to Werder Bremen, where he spent two successful spells on loan, but Mourinho is adamant the midfielder will remain at Stamford Bridge.
De Bruyne's absence from the Chelsea line-up has not prevented him being called up by Belgium for their forthcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers. And Mourinho said: "He is an important player for them. Normally national teams don't have as many options as big clubs have.
"If you go from team to national team it looks like Brazil and Germany have dozens and dozens and dozens of good players. And all the other countries are struggling for quality players and their options are limited.
"Kevin is important for Belgium and we hope he's selected because he could play two games. That would be more difficult with us at the moment. He plays in an area of the pitch where we have a lot of talent and that needs to develop and find stability and confidence. At the same time, he needs to understand that at this level competition is hard.
"The other day Andre Schurrle played very well, Eden Hazard was not playing but will probably be coming back. Juan Mata was in a different situation but came back and played three good games.
"The kid Kevin has to come in my direction. I will come in his direction too. He's a good player and his time will come. He's not going anywhere on loan."