During a World Cup year, signing players early in the summer can only go two ways.
Either it quickly becomes apparent that you’ve paid far too much for an unspectacular footballer, or alternatively that you’ve landed an incredibly promising talent on the cheap. Stoke City signing Oghenekaro Etebo, who officially joined the Championship outfit just days before the World Cup started, would appear to belong in the latter category.
That, at least, is the most logical assumption from the 22-year-old’s first World Cup outing – Nigeria’s 2-0 defeat to Croatia on Saturday. The first goal actually came off Etebo before beating goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, but that unfortunate own goal was the only blotch in an otherwise highly impressive performance.
Indeed, Etebo completed the most dribbles, nine, created the joint-most chances, two, and had the most touches of the ball, 94, of any Nigeria player in a Super Eagles performance that didn’t offer much hope for their progression at this summer’s World Cup. He also weighed in defensively with two tackles and completed 93% of his passes in a commanding and well-rounded engine room display.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the midfielder is guaranteed to be a success at Stoke or anywhere else in England for that matter, but one thing is for certain – had the Potters signed Etebo after impressing upon his World Cup debut, he would have cost more than the mere £6.35million they paid to Feirense.
It’s still incredibly early in the summer and our exposure to Etebo remains minimal, but he already looks like a fantastic piece of business for the Championship side.