Happy homecoming for Pienaar

Just a year after leaving Goodison Park for Tottenham, the South Africa midfielder was re-signed by David Moyes on loan for the rest of the season. Pienaar, 29, was a firm fans' favourite during his first spell at the club and he has been welcomed back to Merseyside with open arms.

Nikica Jelavic was Everton's big-money signing on transfer deadline day but it is the return of Steven Pienaar that has really breathed new life into the Toffees.

Just a year after leaving Goodison Park for Tottenham, the South Africa midfielder was re-signed by David Moyes on loan for the rest of the season. Pienaar, 29, was a firm fans' favourite during his first spell at the club and he has been welcomed back to Merseyside with open arms.

Moyes splashed out GBP5.5million to sign Croatia striker Jelavic from Rangers and much is expected of the prolific front man.

But it is Pienaar who has made an instant impact, impressing during his second debut for the club at Wigan and then scoring less than five minutes into his homecoming appearance against Chelsea. After failing to establish himself at Spurs, Pienaar is thriving on the opportunity to play first-team football and Moyes is delighted to have the former Ajax man back in his side.

The Scotsman said: “He got clapped by everyone at the end, some of the stuff he did was terrific. I said to him at the end it was like he had never been away. Sometimes clubs just fit players and maybe that is the case. Maybe this just suits him.”

Everton skipper Phil Neville hailed Pienaar's display in the 2-0 victory against Chelsea and believes the midfielder belongs at Goodison Park. The former Manchester United man said: “It was a great performance from Pienaar. He is obviously back doing what he does best at a club he enjoys playing at. I don't think he realises how well thought of he is here.

“When he was at Tottenham I don't think there was a day that went past when we didn't speak about him. The combination between him and Leighton Baines on the left-hand side — there is no better combination in English football at the moment.

“He has had a good return. He was Man of the Match at Wigan recently and probably our best player, along with Denis (Stracqualursi) against Chelsea.”

Pienaar is due to return to Tottenham at the end of the season, but the Toffees will be eager to keep hold of the tricky attacking midfielder.

There is a saying that you should ‘never go back' to a former club, but Pienaar is already proving that is something of a myth. Moyes looks to have pulled off a masterstroke by luring the Spurs man back to Merseyside, where an air of pessimism has been replaced by optimism.

In recent years Everton have been slow starters in the English Premier League but finished strongly and with Pienaar pulling the strings, they will be looking up the table rather than over their shoulders.

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