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 soccer player in the world.
After several days of negotiations, Italian media report Sunday that the two clubs have agreed on a transfer fee of $38.9 million and that the deal will be formalized Monday.
Anzhi is expected to give Eto'o a three-year contract worth $28.8 million per season, surpassing the estimated $17.3 million that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Real Madrid and the $15.1 million that Lionel Messi is paid by Barcelona.
Anzhi, from the southern Russian province of Dagestan, is owned by billionaire oil tycoon Suleiman Kerimov.
The 30-year-old Eto is considered still in his prime. 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 $42 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 $62 million Manchester City paid Atletico Madrid for Sergio Aguero last month. Also, Paris Saint-Germain paid $60 million to Palermo for Javier Pastore.
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 1,250 miles 15 times a season.