World Cup Movers

Enoh No one wants to be stranded on the Road to Rio. Maher Mezahi and Salim Masoud Said profile five players who have made astute January loan moves in order to fulfill their World Cup dream. Some were in danger of bench-warming at the World Cup, others were in danger of missing out completely - and still might, but they've certainly been proactive in their attempts to get regular football. Eyong Enoh (Loan from Ajax to Antalyaspor) Aged 17, Eyong Enoh left Cameroon for Northern Cyprus. Two years later, he was back in Cameroon, barely making an impression in a Northern Cypriot League that wasn’t even part of UEFA. Undeterred, he would go on a series of trials and, eventually,  Ajax would spot him and send him to Ajax Cape Town, their South Africa-based affiliate, for a spot of refinement. Then, in 2008, he marched into the Ajax first-team in the Dutch Eredivisie, establishing himself as an all-action, tough-tackling playbreaker.

The tenure of Frank de Boer has seen Eyong go from En-ooohhhh to E-NO! De Boer’s preference of technicality over blood-and-guts inspiration has seen the Cameroonian surplus to requirements, largely toiling in the reserves.

Despite the lack of first team football, however, Enoh has kept his place in recent Cameroon starting line-ups, and the chances are that he could have had his World Cup suit tailored without the need of confirmation from Volker Finke.

But why take the chance? Here was a man who wasn’t prepared to merely polish the bench seats at the World Cup. In early January he made the move to Turkish club Antalyaspor. Antalya it’s a move that surely secures his place in the Cameroon starting XI at the World Cup.

Carl Medjani (Loan from Monaco to Valenciennes)

Monaco moved to sign Carl Medjani last winter, and he had to have surmised that his time at Monaco would ultimately be perfunctory. In a bizarre, one-step-back, two-steps-forward move, the Algerian defender moved from Ajaccio to the Ligue 2 league leaders in the Principality. Medjani tripled his salary, and formed a resolute partnership with Andrea Raggi for the remained of the. But nouveau-riche Monaco brought in a slew of marquee players in the summer forcing the former Liverpool man on loan for Olympiakos. The sojourn in Athens proved fruitless as he made a total of 4 appearances, so a return to France seems a smart move. Valenciennes have assured the Medjani game time ahead of the World Cup, and that is most important to the Algerian international.

Abdul Majeed Waris (Loan from Spartak Moscow to Valenciennes)

Even if Waris had not moved from Spartak Moscow to Valenciennes, it would have still been nigh impossible not to have seen him rekindle his strike partnership with Asamoah Gyan. The strikeforce which brims with brio has added excitement and equilibrium into a Black Stars forward line that was severely short of stardust; relying far too often on Gyan to work wonders in a  lone-striker role.

For all his exploits at international level, Waris hasn’t been all sparks at Spartak Moscow. His time in Moscow has gone stale, fresh surroundings was exactly what he needed. He could have stayed and carried on warming the bench and still made the Ghana starting XI, but he  didn’t want to shortchange himself and his nation. It was crucial he wanted to be at peak fitness in the widest shop window of them all; not only for potential suitors, but also not to do his country a disservice.

Joseph Yobo (Loan from Fenerbahce to Norwich)

The centre-back has been Mr Reliable for Nigeria for much of the last 14 years, but for circa a year he has plummeted to Mr Redundant after a ‘private matter’ between him and Stephen Keshi. Both parties have been reluctant to reveal what the issue is, but they both maintain that they keep in touch over the phone and bizarrely, given Yobo hasn’t featured in a post-Afcon squad (and even in Afcon he only started the opening game), the centre-back claims he still remains official captain of the team.

Keshi hasn’t exactly consigned him to doing TV punditry at the World Cup. Despite the mysterious issue, which both have now apparently swept underneath the carpet, the Big Boss has reassured him he remains part of his World Cup plans. Yet Yobo’s irregular first-team action hasn’t helped his case. He has only started two first-team games for Fenerbahce this season.

“People forget how quick I am,” he told Kick Off last November. “Even now that I have a lot more experience, when I am fit, there are not a lot of players that can go past me. I still have my strength, my consistency, and the same quality over the years and I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything.

The reasons that his loan move to Norwich is perfect are twofold. Firstly, he will be playing at an excellent standard to test the self-championing of his attributes. Secondly, in the readily broadcasted English Premier League he will be far more omnipresent to the eyes of Keshi and fellow Nigerians; certainly more than if he remained in the relatively obscure Turkish Super League. With Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo in their early 20s, Nigeria could certainly peruse Yobo’s international experience, particularly if he walks the talk.

Ishak Belfodil (Loan from Inter Milan to Livorno)

At the age of 22, Ishak Belfodil has scored a dismal 8 senior goals in his professional career. It speaks to his physical and technical potential that so much has been invested in his playing rights with so little equity in return. At Lyon, he fell out with his superiors, so Parma pounced gambling 2.5 million euros on a 20-year-old striker who was yet to score a single goal. But Belfodil handsomely rewarded them for their faith, scoring 8 goals in less than 20 starts. Inter Milan took note and paid 7.5 million for only 50% of his rights this summer, but the Algerian has struggled finding game time behind the likes of Icardi, Palacio, and Milito. There also exists competition amongst the Algerian ranks, which is why Belfodil decided to move to Livorno on loan a few days ago. The loan move assures him playing time, which will be critical in his vying for a roster spot in June.

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