Milan - Inter Milan has reportedly reached a deal with Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala for the transfer of striker Samuel Eto'o, a deal that should make the Cameroon international the highest paid footballer in the world.
After several days of negotiations, Italian media reported on Sunday that the two clubs have agreed on a transfer fee of €27 millio and that the deal will be formalised on Monday.
Anzhi is expected to give Eto'o a three-year contract worth €20 million per season, surpassing the estimated €12 million that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Real Madrid and the €10.5 million that Lionel Messi is paid by Barcelona.
Anzhi, from the troubled southern Russian province of Dagestan, is owned by billionaire oil tycoon Suleiman Kerimov.
At 30, Eto'o is still in his prime, but he has already won three Champions League titles - two with Barcelona and one with Inter - and is apparently excited about playing in the developing Russian league.
In Forbes magazine's latest list of the world's richest people, Kerimov's net worth was estimated at $7.8 billion, tying him for 118th place with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and family.
Anzhi's captain is 38-year-old Roberto Carlos, once the standout left back for Brazil.
The transfer fee for Eto'o also makes it one of the most expensive deals this season, close to the €29 million Barcelona paid Arsenal on Monday to bring Cesc Fabregas back to his childhood club.
The biggest deal during the current transfer window was the £38 million Manchester City paid Atletico Madrid for Sergio Aguero last month. Also, Paris Saint-Germain paid €42 million to Palermo for Javier Pastore.
"When an offer like that comes around, it's difficult to match or refuse," Inter president Massimo Moratti told Wednesday's Gazzetta dello Sport.
Moratti added that UEFA's new financial rules have forced clubs to evaluate their budgets and spending more closely. This season's club accounts are the first ones that formally have to be given to UEFA for inspection - by June 2013.
"Financial fair play is serious," Moratti said. "Whoever doesn't respect the parameters will find themselves excluded from European competition."
Inter has been linked with Diego Forlan of Atletico Madrid, Ezequiel Lavezzi of Napoli or Carlos Tevez of Manchester City as a replacement for Eto'o. Inter's other forwards are Giampaolo Pazzini, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev.
Eto'o led Inter with 37 goals in all competitions last season, having replaced Milito as the club's biggest scoring threat. He was a key member of the Inter side that won the Champions League in 2010, often accepting an attacking midfield or defensive role for then-Inter coach Jose Mourinho.
Before joining Inter in 2009, Eto'o played five seasons with Barcelona.
Makhachkala is plagued by violence from insurgency that has spread across the North Caucasus after two separatist wars in Dagestan's neighboring region of Chechnya.
Anzhi players live and train at a training camp outside Moscow and travel to Makhachkala for home games, flying about 2 000 kilometers (1 250 miles) 15 times a season.