Samuel Eto'o's stint in the Premier League is set to be limited to a solitary season, with the veteran Cameroon forward expected to move to Major League Soccer once his contract at Chelsea expires next summer.
The former Barcelona and Internazionale forward, a three-times European Cup winner, swapped Anzhi Makhachkala for Stamford Bridge in August for a cut-price £5m, with the Russian club conducting a fire-sale as they sought to restructure financially. Eto'o had worked under José Mourinho at San Siro and always appeared to be a stop-gap signing following Chelsea's failure to secure Wayne Rooney's release from Manchester United.
Chelsea do not anticipate signing another forward in January despite Mourinho's frustration, expressed in the wake of Saturday's defeat at Stoke City, that Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba have only four league goals between them this season. No forward has a league goal away from Stamford Bridge this calendar year. With financial fair play rules to consider and the availability of elite players in January scarce, Mourinho and the club's recruitment department will address the need to strengthen their forward ranks in the summer.
They will welcome back Romelu Lukaku to the fray following his season's loan at Everton but Eto'o, who has scored twice in nine Premier League appearances, is expected to open pre-contract talks with MLS clubs next month before departing for the United States at the end of the campaign.
He has shown flashes of form, having taken time to adjust following his spell in the Russian league, but, like Torres and Ba, has failed to provide the consistent attacking edge in a Chelsea team brimming with creative players.
Los Angeles Galaxy, DC United and Club Deportivo Chivas USA are potential destinations. Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire also likely to express interest. The four-times African player of the year had been heavily linked with FC Toronto, coached by the former Blackburn and Queens Park Rangers defender Ryan Nelsen, but is thought to favour a move to the US rather than Canada.
Chelsea continue to monitor Rooney's contractual situation at Old Trafford – the England forward's deal expires in the summer of 2015 – as they consider their long-term options to bolster their forward line. There is long-standing interest in Monaco's Radamel Falcao, though the 27-year-old could potentially be priced even out of their range.
As it is, Mourinho anticipates working with his trio of forwards for the remainder of this campaign before seeking fresh blood next summer, with Ba, who had been available for loan in August, also expected to leave.
"At the end of the season we will be in better condition to analyse our squad, to analyse the market and, normally, make a couple of changes to improve the team for next season," said Mourinho, "but this season, we are ready to go to the end with the same people."