When Liverpool agreed to the £5 million sale of Jonjo Shelvey to Swansea City in the summer of 2013, Brendan Rodgers not only lost one of the club's brightest young talents, but also the most obvious long-term successor to Steven Gerrard at Anfield.
True, the 22-year-old midfielder hasn't exactly set the world alight since moving to the Liberty Stadium, but he has shown glimpses of the potential that prompted the Reds to pluck him from Charlton Athletic three years earlier.
Against Southampton on Sunday, Shelvey scored a spectacular goal to secure the Swans a valuable 1-0 victory at St Mary's, and provided Rodgers with a timely reminder that he could live to regret the former England U21 international's departure.
Gerrard, of course, recently announced that this would be his last season at Liverpool after confirming plans to take on a new challenge in Major League Soccer upon the expiry of his contract.
The former England captain will follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and join Los Angeles Galaxy, leaving behind a huge void that the Merseyside club will undoubtedly struggle to fill in the aftermath of his departure.
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Shelvey could've been the man for that job, having briefly showcased his talent as a box-to-box midfield star. He certainly possesses some of the key attributes needed to succeed in that role, which seem to be lacking in any of Liverpool's other current central midfield options.
Jordan Henderson has been heralded as Gerrard's eventual replacement, particularly as his performances continue to improve and his overall influence at Anfield increases. However, there are still some doubts about his capability of becoming the main driving force in the team.
Shelvey started just 17 Premier League games during three frustrating years at Liverpool and justified his decision to swap Merseyside for South Wales by confirming his need to play more regular football.
The Swansea ace would surely have developed further had he been afforded more opportunities to impress in the team, although Rodgers might have had some reservations about Shelvey's attitude and level of professionalism, which could have been another reason for his failure to make the grade at Anfield.
Garry Monk recently warned the midfielder he would not tolerate his perceived laziness, and he responded in the perfect way with a fine strike against Saints that was reminiscent of a young Steven Gerrard.
Picking the ball up from deep in midfield Shelvey drove forward before unleashing a magnificent strike from the edge of the box that flew into the top corner. Opposition goalkeeper Fraser Forster got a hand to the ball, but could not prevent it from going in.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game on Shelvey's first start since the 4-1 defeat against Liverpool on December 29, after he received a four-match ban for violent conduct following a clash with Emre Can.
"I've always tried to emulate Steven Gerrard," - Jonjo Shelvey
His timely return helped Swansea secure only their second away win in ten attempts this term, and record a first victory in five Premier League games to ease the pressure on Monk.
Shelvey's powerful presence will not only have given his manager something to think about moving forward, but will also have left Liverpool fans wondering what might've been had the midfielder remained at Anfield.
The Addicks academy graduate admitted that he ignored Gerrard's advice when pursuing a move to Swansea 18 months ago, even though he has the utmost respect for a player he used to model his own game on.
"I said to Stevie that I might have to go elsewhere to get football and he told me 'stay here, you'll get your chance'," he explained in an interview with Wales Online. "It was great to hear that from him but I felt I needed to come away.
"It was probably mad because that's me turning him down to stay there, but I felt I had to get away to play and I'm lucky that I’ve found my feet at a club like Swansea."
On comparisons with his childhood hero, Shelvey added: "I've always tried to emulate him because he has always been my favourite player. You learn by seeing what he does on the training pitch and for Liverpool and England over a number of years.
"I'm not going out there every game and saying 'I've got to be like Steven Gerrard'. I suppose there comes a time in your life when you can't copy him, you have got to be your own player."
His own player, Shelvey might be. But, there's little doubt he would've been the best possible replacement for the soon to be departing Steven Gerrard at Anfield next season.
It could prove to be a very costly mistake for Liverpool, because there is no obvious successor to the inspirational skipper within their current ranks. Capable cover will come at a significant price, notably more than the modest fee they received for Shelvey's signature.
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