Johannesburg - The ill-fated 18-month tenure of Steven Pienaar as a Tottenham Hotspur player is set to end this week with the Bafana Bafana captain returning to Everton on a permanent basis.
The first hint of the move back to Everton, which Pienaar has declared would be in his best interests, materialised last week when the diminutive South African captain was left out of the extended Spurs' squad that is currently on a pre-season tour to the United States.
At the same time, new Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was quoted as saying that negotiations for the transfer of Pienaar back to Everton were "ongoing and proceeding favourably."
The Guardian has reported that Spurs and Everton had agreed on the terms for Pienaar's transfer and "all that remains is for the South African midfielder to go through the formality of a medical test."The 30-year-old Pienaar was transferred from Everton, where he had enjoyed two of the most successful seasons of his career, to Tottenham in January last year on the basis that greater opportunities existed for him with the North London club - notably the chance to perform in high-profiled European club competitions.
It did not work out that way, however, and despite a couple of bright opening games, Pienaar suffered from injuries and then sunk into the doldrums at Spurs without gaining a single Premiership start in the opening five months of last season.
In frustration, he asked Spurs to grant him a loan in order to remain active and Everton were only too happy to snap him up on this basis -with his fortunes doing a favourable about-turn with the Merseyside club.
Standing in the way of Pienaar's permanent return to Everton for the coming season was the mooted R30m transfer fee Spurs had initially paid for the player.
With manager David Moyes an enthusiastic supporter of Pienaar it seems an agreement has now been reached.
Pienaar, no doubt, will be boosted by the latest developments, particularly as Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has indicated there is a possibility of him making a change insofar as the captaincy of the South African national side is concerned.
"Some players," hinted Igesund, "perform better without the burden of captaincy to worry about."
Igesund added that he would hold discussions with Pienaar on the issue while on a visit to Europe early next month before making an announcement on the Bafana captaincy issue before the daunting friendly international against Brazil in Sao Paulo on
Bafana have experienced a succession of uninspiring results under Pienaar's leadership, notably the failure to qualify for the African Nations Cup tournament that was staged earlier in the year.