One objective in football is to test oneself against the very best and that is what Oghenekaro Etebo would do on Thursday when his lowly La Liga side, Las Palmas, host league leaders, Barcelona.
The Rio 2016 hero has been a good addition to the Las Palmas squad as they strive to beat relegation. At the moment they are ensconced in 18th place with 19 points from 25 matches.
In the four matches that Etebo has played in, Las Palmas have won one, drawn two, and lost one. In that sequence, they have scored two goals and conceded twice.
On Thursday, Etebo will be in close quarters against World Cup opponent, Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and either of Paulinho or Philippe Coutinho. This stellar cast will throw down a heavyweight gauntlet but if the Nigerian can help his side to any result, his stock would have risen higher.
In the four matches, whoscored.com have scored the Nigerian midfielder an average of 7.02 and he was the star performer against Malaga, where he scored a magnificent 8.3 – the only match the team has won in his first four matches. After that match, Etebo said, “Pleased to make my debut & happy to get the win! Thank you to all the supporters.”
Squawka reveals the 22-year-old midfielder has completed 117 forward passes. He has also successfully completed seven dribbles while attempting four shots, with his accuracy at 33%.
After a hard-fought 0-0 result away to Athletic Club, Etebo wrote on Twitter, “Tough game last night against a good team. Disappointed not to take all 3 points but pleased with another clean sheet and point away from home. Our fans were brilliant once again.”
Etebo was one of five players that completed January moves to La Liga. Three came to Las Palmas, the other two being Emmanuel Emenike and Imoh Ezekiel. Both Brown Ideye and Success Isaac joined relegation-troubled Malaga, for whom Ideye has scored once in four appearances.
For a player that loves to move in January, having moved to Feirense in January 2016, his value has risen from about $300,000 [N110 million] to about $2.5 million [N880 million] in 24 months.
Another superb performance against a Lionel Messi-led Barcelona would see his value rise much higher and give him greater confidence with the World Cup just around the corner.