Ravel Morrison was supposed to be the next big thing. As a teenager at Manchester United he had been marked out as a future star of the club's midfield, drawing admiring glances from Paul Scholes no less.
However, personal and behavioural problems have ensured his remains a talent unfulfilled. After a move to West Ham, he enjoyed a productive period with the Hammers in the first half of last season, before he and Sam Allardyce fell out.
A loan to Championship with QPR followed for Morrison who seemingly went from zero to hero within the space of a few months. After an unproductive spell at Cardiff City earlier this campaign, he has been somewhat left in the wilderness.
Lazio though, have decided to rescue the youngster from the West Ham reserves, by offering the player a contact after his deal was terminated by the east London club.
Should he move to Serie A then the 22-year-old will join a growing list of Englishmen in the Italian top flight. Although he will be hoping to enjoy greater success than Micah Richards and Ashley Cole, who as of yet have struggled in their continental surroundings.
The move bears many similarities to a particular one made in the 90s. It relates to another highly talented but troubled English midfielder moving to the very same club. One who also had the world at his feet but threatened to blow it all away.
The new Gazza?
In the summer of 1992, a Geordie lad by the name of Paul Gascoigne finally made a move to Italy from Spurs following a succession of injuries, which had previously halted the proposed deal.
On moving to Lazio, he was treated like the saviour of a then struggling side. The man to bring the good times back to the famous club. The Italian public had seen his precocious talent first hand, having lit up the World Cup two years before. However, his time in Rome did not act as a rehabilitative exercise.
Gascoigne endured three frustrating years of injuries and off field problems as he eventually fled to Glasgow Rangers in 1995. Despite his transfer not materialising as all associated would have liked, he is still held in high esteem amongst the Lazio fans and is always welcomed warmly on return to the Estadio Olimpico.
Morrison would join with such huge expectation on his shoulders but will hope to enjoy success that the unfortunate Gascoigne wasn’t able to. But can a new country put paid to the troubles he has endured?
A good opportunity
He can expect to come in for stern punishment if should he err away from professionalism, although that has hardly acted as a deterrent up until now. From a playing style point of view, he may be well suited to the league though. The England under-21 international is a technically gifted player, with exceptional vision. Serie A may perhaps be more to his pace than the Premier League.
The league has changed a lot since the days of Gascoigne, and Morrison is not in the same league as the great man on arrival. They bear many similarities though. Can Lazio succeed where they failed with ‘Gazza’, in transforming the mind set of a trouble star?
Gascoigne is a player Sir Alex Ferguson had once hoped to bring to Manchester United, while he has stated before that Morrison can be a great player if any manager can get a handle on him.
His huge potential is undoubted but his attitude improve dramatically or his chances will run out. Hopefully this time he can finally begin to fulfil this special talent in the beautiful city of Rome.
Can Ravel Morrision resurrect his career in Italy? Or is he already a lost cause?
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