Many had questions over Oghenekaro Etebo’s decision to move to Stoke City just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Stoke City had just been relegated from the Premier League to the Championship, so why was a young full Nigeria international joining them at that time? No one would dare say on his decision.
Now just after a year and a half in England, the 24-year-old midfielder has made a move to Spainish side Getafe albeit on loan.
This loan deal could be the beginning of the process to correct what many considered to be a wrong career move in 2018. Etebo’s stint at Stoke City wasn’t a disaster but it did nothing for his career and the circumstances in which he is leaving is evidence that he feels he wasted his years in the English Championship.
In defence of his move in 2018, Stoke City had the ambition of quickly returning to the Premier League and playing just a year in the Championship wouldn’t have sounded like a bad idea. The scenario of helping Stoke City back to the Premier League would have put him in a nice place in the club’s history and endeared him to fans while getting to play in the English top-flight.
But despite spending nearly £50 million on players in the summer transfer window, results and performances were poor just halfway gone into the season. It was clear that Stoke City were not returning to the Premier League.
Despite the club’s failings, Etebo still delivered and individually, the quality he brought the side was undisputed. At the end of the season-Stoke City finished 16th-he was voted Fans' Player of the Year and was narrowly beaten to the club’s Player of the Year by goalkeeper Jack Butland.
He started well again this season but several injuries meant he only made 11 out of Stoke City’s 23 league games. Even when he returned from injury, Etebo still didn’t play as reports started coming from the club about his poor attitude which was perhaps, a sign of his frustrations at the club.
If he is frustrated, Etebo has every reason to be. Stoke City have failed to make progress like he expected while his career has also stalled.
Furthermore, playing in the Championship has not and would not have helped his career and his place in the Super Eagles of Nigeria. In Etebo’s absence from Nigeria’s national team since after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Joe Aribo scored two in his first two games for the Super Eagles and has become a fan favourite while Ramon Azeez has made a return to the team.
These two players who threaten his place in the Super Eagles play for top division sides-Rangers in Scotland for Aribo and Granada in Spain for Azeez.
He must have taken these into consideration with his move to Gefate where he will spend the rest of the 2019/2020 season and if things go according to plan, get a permanent deal.
“New chapter 💪 just want to use this opportunity to appreciate all the fans from Stoke @StokeLoudProud @stokecity you guys will forever stay in my heart and Goodluck for the rest of the season✌️ Up Getafe @GetafeCF,” Etebo wrote on his Twitter while announcing his move to Spain.
Back in Spain
It’s a return to Spain for Etebo who played for Las Palmas during the 2017/18 campaign. Etebo impressed at Las Palmas during what was a difficult season for the Canary Islanders. His physical and technical talents stood out despite the team’s inevitable relegation.
“I was in Spain before, with Las Palmas last year, so this is a new beginning. It is for me to make sure that I do my best and give my all for Getafe,” Etebo said.
“It is not going to be easy, there will be hard work between now and the end of the season. Let’s see what I am going to bring to the team.”
Unlike his last quest in Spain with Las Palmas, Etebo is joining a far better team in a healthy position on the La Liga table and he is expected to thrive with that safety for Jose Bordalas’ highly organised team.
Getafe have finished eighth and fifth in the La Liga in the last two seasons and currently sit seventh in the table at the half-way point of 2019/20.
They also have the Europa League to compete in as they face Ajax of Amsterdam in the round of 32.
“I came here first of all because I love the team,” Etebo also said.
“I had other options. I believe that if you go to a good team, a good dressing-room, where you are wanted, there is every possibility that you will do well. I am not here just because of the Europa League, but because I know the team will push me forward in my career. Every game for me is important, and I want my team to do well.”
Etebo will take over Getafe’s number five shirt from the departing Markel Bergara and compete for a place in central midfield with Uruguay international Mauro Arambarri and Serbia’s Nemanja Maksimovic.