I always found Gabriel Obertan intriguing.
Newcastle United signed him in summer 2011 on a five year contract and he was touted as one of the very few signings that Alan Pardew had any input in, reports claiming he (Pardew) had been desperate to sign the winger.
That alone should have been enough to set off alarm bells.
Signed for £4m as a 22 year old, Gabriel Obertan had made only four starts for Manchester United.
However, unlike the mess they are now and what we saw on Sunday, this was an all conquering Manchester United who had won four of the last five years’ Premier Leagues and in 2010/11 were losing Champions League finalists to Barcelona and had won the Premier League.
So just because he couldn’t get into the Manchester United team didn’t make him a bad player…
Gabriel Obertan made a very good start and indeed was one of a number of players you forget who made a decent contribution to that fifth place finish in 2011/12.
Danny Guthrie made 16 Premier League appearances in 2011/12, James Perch 25 (13 + 12), Dan Gosling 12 (1 + 11), Leon Best 18 (16 + 2) and Gabriel Obertan 23 (18 + 5).
Obertan made 16 starts in 2011 but only two more once we got into 2012, the second half of the season.
It was all downhill from there though really. The winger was very quick but appeared to have zero confidence, like a rabbit in the headlights.
In the final four years of his five year Newcastle contract, Gabriel Obertan only made 15 Premier League appearances before Rafa Benitez paid off him and Sylvain Marveaux early to get them out of the club rather than seeing out the final months of their contracts.
Two things stand out for Gabriel Obertan since he left Newcastle United.
Nobody else has since paid any money for him and he hasn’t lasted long at any club either.
Summer 2016 saw him join Russian club Anzhi but after only six league appearances and one goal later they let him go and he joined Wigan in January 2017.
Seven league starts and one goal later, Wigan let Obertan go after being relegated that season from the Championship. That was the 2016/17 season when Newcastle won the second tier but missed out on a reunion as the winger was injured when the teams met, Newcastle winning 2-1 at SJP on 1 April 2017.
As a free agent it was off to Bulgaria for Gabriel Obertan in summer 2017. Actually lasting 47 league goals and scoring five goals, it was an 18 month stay at Levski Sofia.
The Bulgarian club releasing him in January 2019 when he joined struggling Turkish club BB Erzurumspor.
Nine league starts and one goal in the second half of last season couldn’t help them, as they were relegated to the second tier of Turkish football.
Still only 30, that is where Gabriel Obertan still is. However, after seven games the club find themselves only 11th in the table and Obertan is struggling to get a game, scoring once in five appearances but only two of them as a starter.
I wonder if he looks back at his start at Newcastle and wonder where it all went wrong.
Obertan’s first Premier League start for NUFC was in the 1-0 Ryan Taylor ‘over the wall’ win at Sunderland and in his first 10 starts Newcastle were unbeaten, that 2011/12 season seeing the winger kick off his career at SJP with six wins and four draws in his first 10 games.
He definitely had something but not quite sure what it was…