Everton transfer focus – Yobo completes protracted exit

Joseph Yobo has finally completed his two-years-in-the-making move to Fenerbahce. Having spent the last two years on loan in Turkey a permanent deal seemed the logical next step and, now the transfer has been confirmed, the departure of David Moyes’ first signing as Everton manager is another sign of the bosses’ longevity at Goodison Park.

Signed two years before Tim Cahill, Yobo was never quite so emblematic as the Australian midfielder but for a spell was highly regarded by Evertonians. Originally brought in on loan from Marseille shortly after the 2002 World Cup, Yobo marked his debut against Fulham with a piece of outrageous skill, not to mention daring – some would say worrying – bravado.

Facing his own goal as the ball bounced over his head Yobo, seemingly faced with the choice of rolling the ball back to the goalkeeper or collecting possession and calmly turning, did neither. Instead, the then-22-year-old flicked the ball over his head and broke into midfield. Whether by luck or judgement there were no Fulham attackers lurking and Yobo carried on as normal, but that sort of extravagance was rarely seen by an Everton centre-back.

While Yobo escaped that day there were times in his Everton career when more poorly-timed efforts were punished, and lapses in concentration seized upon by opponents. Yet for his occasional foibles at his peak Yobo was sublime. Quick and strong – and the first black Everton captain – at one point Yobo was amongst the first names on Moyes’ team sheet. Popular with supporters and a veteran of more than 250 Everton games, Yobo was nevertheless side-lined when Phil Jagielka moved to the club in 2007.

Yobo continued to be part of Moyes’ plans but a pairing of Jagielka and Joleon Lescott eventually prevailed, with the Nigeria captain often only called upon in times of injury or, occasionally, to play out of position in midfield or at right-back. By 2009-10 Yobo made only 17 league appearances. In summer 2010 he was first loaned to Fenerbahce and with combinations of John Heitinga, Sylvain Distin and Jagielka impressing the writing was on the wall.

The situation bordered on farcical, however. Fener were desirous of keeping Yobo but reluctant to agree a permanent deal, with Everton happy to see Yobo move on but not inclined towards another loan. Another 12-month deal was eventually agreed. Cynics suggested the Turkish side would try their luck with another loan deal this summer – leaving Yobo in some sort of perpetual limbo – but despite initial reports from Turkey that negotiations had broken down, a deal was eventually concluded.

It is a shame that Yobo’s departure was greeted with a sigh of relief. It certainly does not do justice to the defender’s contributions to Everton over the last decade. But at the same time it is more a mark of the ludicrous double loan deal than dissatisfaction with the player. As Moyes’ first signing and a reliable performer throughout his Everton career Yobo deserves a warm place in the Toffees’ recent history.

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