A growing feeling around Manchester United is that midfielder Tom Cleverley has shown promise for far too long now - and that at 24 he is not getting any younger, so it's time he started turning potential into proven talent.
His progress has indeed appeared to have hit a snag since making his debut for Manchester United in August 2011 against Manchester City, and his performances this season have flattered to deceive.
United fans will also be casting wishful glances at two former players whose careers have truly blossomed with moves away from Old Trafford in recent years. I speak, of course, about Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison.
Pogba left Old Trafford in the summer of 2012 after refusing to renew his contract despite concerted efforts by then manager Sir Alex Ferguson and co. to convince him otherwise.
United have since struggled to get a replacement for club legend and midfield general Paul Scholes, while the French prodigy has grown from a reserve for the France U-19 team to a fully fledged international for the senior national team - and is now a sure pick for the French squad to Brazil 2014 should they successfully manoeuvre their way past Ukraine in their two-legged World Cup qualifier.
Morrison’s progress will also have left United fans perhaps in regret after seeing the rogue midfielder leaving Old Trafford in tumultuous circumstances early last year.
The England U-21 midfielder has since cleaned up his act after a loan spell at Birmingham City, and has pushed his way into the first team picture at Upton Park, making eight league appearances for West Ham so far this season.
Bearing in mind that the two players are barely 20, it has to be said that their careers are on a steep upward curve while Cleverley seems to have already levelled out. This may perhaps be easier to analyse statistically, and this infographic may go some way in showing this:
Key Passes: 1.5
Av. Pass: 40
Passing Acc: 83%
Key Passes: 0.6
Av. Pass: 33
Passing Acc: 86.9%
Key Passes: 0.8
Av. Pass: 56
Passing Acc: 89.7%
Juventus are clearly reaping their rewards for believing in Pogba’s talents, as he appears to be head and shoulders above the rest. He may be benefitting from getting an extended run in the first team and exposure to the world’s greatest talents in the UEFA Champions League has clearly done him a world of good too.
Morrison’s statistics show a player just beginning to tap into his vast potential, and with three goals in the league and five goals in all competitions for the Hammers this season, he is clearly repaying his manager Sam Allardyce’s belief in him as well.
Another factor that plays in their favour again is their age, as at 20 they are only beginning to come into their own and to develop the maturity and level-headedness required at the very highest level.
Morrison especially appears to have come on in leaps and bounds in this respect, but may yet have a few kinks to iron out after his bust-up with Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha during an England U-21 match against Lithuania last month.
Yet despite this act of petulance, senior national team manager Roy Hodgson and U-21 boss Gareth Southgate have reportedly held talks to determine whether they can include the West Ham sensation in Hodgson’s squad for upcoming friendlies against Chile and Germany.
All in all, while both players may have left Old Trafford in controversial and turbulent circumstances (perhaps unavoidable too) but with Manchester United struggling for a little spark and creativity in the middle of the park, what would a growing Paul Pogba or a reformed Ravel Morrison have done for the Red Devils?
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