A pleasant piece of news report hit the timeline late last week, and that was the loan switch of Oghenekaro Etebo from Stoke City to La Liga outfit – Getafe.
The midfielder had been in limbo for quite some time at Stoke City as he barely got a look in from head coach Michael O’Neill even as the Potters struggled to win games. For a long time, the reason for his name being omitted from the matchday squad was regularly given as injury.
Although In fairness Etebo was injured for a while, the energetic midfield ace had made a complete recovery since mid-October and even featured from the start against Sheffield Wednesday on October 22.
That was, however, the last time he was seen on a pitch in a Stoke City shirt. And when injury could no longer be cited as the reason for his continued absence, it became increasingly clear that the Potters and the player would part ways come January.
But with the Super Eagles star struggling for game time, Getafe came to his rescue.
Ignoring for a moment Stoke City fans’ outcry following the loss of one of the team’s most influential stars, this move has to be regarded as a good move for all concerned. The decision makers at the Bet365 Stadium must have heaved a huge sigh of relief of having been able to remove from the bank books the salary of one of the club’s highest earners.
In contrast, Getafe now possess in their fold, a tireless, all-action powerhouse capable of doing a fine job offensively and defensively both with equal dexterity.
For Etebo, the move appears to be a better one than his first time in La Liga. The former Las Palmas midfielder returns to La Liga, not to a side battling against relegation but to an Azulones side pushing to play again in Europe next term.
The 24-year-old goes straight to a side set to face Ajax in the knockout phase of the Europa League next month.
Although he is contracted to stay in Spain temporarily for the next six months, Etebo can see his move become permanent if he can help the Azulones return to continental competition next season.
Also, a string of decent performances in Europe should force the continent’s bigger sides to take proper notice of a player blessed with the technique of Clarence Seedorf and the raw physicality of Michael Essien.
It is already a great thing to see another Nigeria international join Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze at one of La Liga’s top clubs.
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr could be anywhere right now dancing to Tim Brown’s “The Future Is Here”. Which coach would not be, especially when blessed with an abundance of top quality, young talents playing for the world’s most notable sides.
The return of Etebo to top-level football should see him make a quick comeback to the Super Eagles. But Etebo will find that his spot in the team has been occupied by the mercurial Joe Aribo, and it would take something extraordinary to displace the Rangers man.
But the former Feirense midfielder is not one to shy away from a challenge, and how he steps up his game to reclaim his starting shirt in the Super Eagles first eleven should be fascinating to behold in the coming months.