Manchester United manager David Moyes has scouted most of Europe in the hunt for a quality central midfielder to bolster his squad - but should the Scot be looking a little closer to home for a possible solution?
Moyes knows Jack Rodwell better than any other manager - and, yes, that includes Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini - so it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if the Red Devils’ boss was weighing up a cheeky summer move for the defensive midfielder. Moyes knows how gifted the young England international remains, despite his many injury problems, while Rodwell knows that his chances of forcing his way into this Manchester City side are decreasing with each passing week.
The 23-year-old, who was a long-term target for Manchester United before City splashed out £12m for his services in 2012, has made just 14 Premier League appearances since arriving at the Etihad Stadium and is unlikely to take the place of either Yaya Toure or Fernandinho in the near future. That’s not to say, however, that he’s necessarily a class below either player. It’s simply a case of a young footballer trying to make up for a lost time at a club where such opportunities are extremely limited.
Having been injured for such a long period of time, Rodwell’s career has undoubtedly suffered. This is a player who was compared to Steven Gerrard throughout his formative years with Everton, while Manchester United saw exactly what he’s capable of at close quarters in February 2010, when he scored a fabulous solo goal against them at Goodison Park under the management of Moyes.
After that moment, many were left scratching their heads at how Manchester City had beaten their local rivals to the potentially world-class midfielder, who had already made his senior England debut. Rodwell looked every inch the sort of player that Ferguson would have been looking to sign at the time, but it was Manchester City who produced the cash.
Maybe Ferguson and his scouting staff considered it too much of a risk? If that’s the case then it’s hard to argue that the Manchester United legend got it wrong. However, Rodwell is back fit again and ready to restart his career - all he needs is the opportunity.
If Manchester United make a reasonable offer - of, say, around £10m - then Manchester City would surely consider, if only to help the youngster get his career back on track. There wouldn’t even be much hard feeling amongst the City faithful, simply because he hasn’t had the opportunity to endear himself to the club’s fans.
Manchester United need a couple of new central midfielders in truth, and would anyone disagree if I suggested that a fully-fit Rodwell is a significant upgrade on Tom Cleverley? He’s a homegrown player who is strong in the tackle, capable of running with the ball and playing a decent pass.
If Moyes manages to sign a world-class central midfielder, then the Manchester United faithful would also welcome Rodwell with open arms. At 23, it’s far too early to be writing him off as another Owen Hargreaves.
Moyes, probably out of fear that people will think he’s trying to recreate his former Everton side at Old Trafford, is unlikely to pursue Rodwell. But he should.