Before his move to Manchester City, it seemed Jack Rodwell was destined to become the first of the next generation of talented young Englishmen; someone to fill the boots of Paul Scholes and challenge the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
Even before he had hit 20, he demonstrated a real talent for box-to-box play, terrific stamina and a strong tenacious presence. It seemed Everton had their hands on a truly special talent - a future international star - a future England captain?
And then Rodwell moved to Manchester City in 2012 for a £12 million transfer fee that saw his limitless potential grind to an abrupt halt.
Just 16 appearances for City in the two years since is a bleak statistic by anybody's standards. Although he has been plagued with injuries throughout those two years, even had he remained fully fit, it is unlikely he would have found many opportunities with the likes of Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia and Gareth Barry ahead of him in the midfield pecking order.
At the time, the move seemed a not-so-subtle way for Manchester City to fulfill their home-grown players' quota; further emphasised by the arrival of Scott Sinclair - a good player and another promising young Englishman but nowhere near the level of City's existing crop. Both players were dooming themselves to a career spent in the reserves. For an enormous talent such as Rodwell, this should have been unthinkable.
Rodwell has now joined Sunderland in an attempt to resurrect his fallen career. It seems a good marriage - Sunderland are in need of quality players to bolster their team and Rodwell needs Sunderland to help him rekindle his career.
The sad fact is that Rodwell is now 23 and has lost two years' worth of development at Manchester, even though he had almost broken into the Everton first team before he moved away anyway.
Had he remained, there's no telling where this young man could have been by now. Many saw him, not just as a superb Premier League player, but as a potential England captain - a midfield workhorse to lead the new generation of English players. Two years on and you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about.
Rodwell can get back to his best
Hopefully given a year or two at Sunderland (should the move be completed), Rodwell can get back on the path to greatness, as well as force himself back into the England team, for which he has not played since he left Everton.
He still retains talent and enormous potential and should now be given the chance to demonstrate it away from City. While it would be unfair to suggest Man City alone are responsible for his decline, as injuries have also played a huge part, Rodwell remains the perfect example to young footballers of a player with huge potential making a near-fatal big money move too early in his career..
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