Three-time African Player of the Year Samuel Eto'o has been left out of the Barcelona squad for their last 16 Champions League first leg match against Liverpool on Wednesday.The Catalan club said that last season's Spanish first division top scorer would miss the clash because he was still not 100 per cent fit.
"Eto'o and Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard talked this evening and decided together that it would be better not force his recovery," a Barcelona spokesperson said.
Rijkaard had earlier on Tuesday suggested that Eto'o would be ready to play his part in the Catalan club's 18-man squad that will face the men from Merseyside.
"Psychologically he's fine and physically he's getting better all the time," commented Rijkaard at a press conference before Barcelona's final training session in preparation for game.
The Cameroon striker's refusal to take the field for the Spanish league leaders against Racing Santander 10 days ago led to Rijkaard, and also Barcelona's World Player of the Year Ronaldindo, to question his commitment to the club.
The trio subsequently smoothed over the public dispute but Eto'o himself then requested not be part of the squad that lost 2-1 at Valencia on Sunday.
The player has only played 10 minutes of competitive football, just over two weeks ago after coming on as a late substitute at Osasuna, since suffering a right knee injury in the Champions League group stages against Werder Bremen last September.
Eto'o was subsequently out of action for more than four months until he returned to full training on 1 February.