Can Etebo get his mojo back with the Hornets?

At the 2018 World Cup, Ahmed Musa was the star of Nigeria’s heartbreaking campaign, but Oghenekaro Etebo also announced himself on the biggest stage.

The 25-year-old was arguably Nigeria’s best player at the tournament after Musa, who scored two goals against Iceland.

Etebo played in all of Nigeria’s three group games, and he never put a foot wrong. He was not fazed by the occasion and held his own against top players.

The former Warri Wolves star brought life to Nigeria’s midfield with his drive on the ball and energy. Etebo started his Super Eagles career in 2013 and as an attacking midfielder, but he played a little bit deeper at the 2018 World Cup.

But despite the change in his position, Etebo excelled as a central midfielder. Before the World Cup, Etebo had signed for Stoke City, but following the competition, many questioned why he decided to join a side that just suffered relegation from the Premier League.

His performances were so good that he would’ve gotten a better deal had he taken his decision after the World Cup.

Nonetheless, he went ahead to join the Potters. Etebo settled in quickly at the Bet 365 stadium and instantly became a fan favourite.

Although Stoke failed to secure promotion, the Nigerian international was named the fans player of the season in his first year.

However, from that moment, it all went downhill for the ex-Warri Wolves star at Stoke City. Etebo’s exertions at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations meant he did not have a normal pre-season with Stoke in his second season.

And that affected his performances in the early stages of the season. His situation was also not helped by the injuries he suffered.

After missing the first two games of the 2019/2020 season, Etebo went on to play in the next ten league games, but he never got to play again after October due to Stoke’s poor results and injuries.

With no game time, Etebo joined Getafe on loan in January 2020, and it all started well for him. The Super Eagles featured in six La Liga games and made one appearance in the Copa Del Rey between January and March.

But just as he was regaining his form, the season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. During this period of inactivity, Etebo was absent from his family as he wasn’t allowed to travel to Nigeria.

It was a difficult moment for him as the absence from his family and inactivity took a toll on his mental health.

Although the league resumed after three months, Etebo only played in four league games, missing the last six league games of the season due to an injury.

As a result, Getafe never picked up the option to sign him permanently. The Spanish side’s refusal to take up the option to sign him permanently left Etebo’s future in the air.

But the former Las Palmas midfielder didn’t have to wait long as Galatasaray picked up the option to sign him on loan from Stoke last summer.

While he did have a decent run of games in Turkey, Etebo’s performances were not too convincing in the games he played for the Lions.

Due to his below-par performances, Galatasaray also refused the option to sign him permanently. With Galatasaray passing on him, it looked like Etebo would never get the chance to play at a respectable level.

However, luck found him again as Watford have now decided to sign him on loan with an option to buy permanently next summer.

The move to Watford offers Etebo the chance to play in the English top-flight as the Hornets are now back after finishing second in the Skybet Championship last season.,

In league football, there’s nothing bigger than Premier League football. It gives Etebo the chance to impress in the biggest league in the World.

Etebo has the qualities to excel in the Premier League, but he needs to show it consistently. He has been unlucky with injuries in the past, but he appears to be over that now.

He should not have a problem with settling down quickly as Watford has a strong Nigerian contingent, with three of Etebo’s international teammates in the club’s books, while there are two other uncapped Nigerian players.

The 25-year-old should also have enough playing time, given Watford are not stocked with quality in the central-midfield area.

It all sets up perfectly for the Nigerian international, but he needs to raise his level from what it was in the last three years.

Etebo is only 25, but he may not get the chance to play in a top-level league like the Premier League if his loan spell at Watford doesn’t go according to plan.

It’s been a few difficult years for the Super Eagles star, but he now has the opportunity to get his mojo back with the Hornets.

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