Forgotten Manchester City man Jack Rodwell completed a reported £10m move to Sunderland during the week, signing a five-year deal.
The former Everton star had a torrid time at the Premier League champions, making only 16 appearances in an injury plagued two-year spell. Still only 23, Rodwell will be hoping that his move to Wearside can reignite his career and place him back in the frame for a position in the England squad which he was widely expected to nail down before his ill-fated move to Manchester.
During his time at Everton, where he experienced quite a rise to fame, Rodwell attracted the glances of many top sides in England. After excelling in the 2009/2010 season where 26 appearances produced two goals, the defensive midfielder was offered a five-year contract extension.
By signing this new deal with the Toffees he allegedly spurned the advances of another Manchester club. However, when the blue side of the city came calling in August 2012 Rodwell couldn’t help but answer. The promise of riches and trophies proved too much for the youngster who had that season made his international debut and first international start.
However, the issue of playing time looked to be severely in doubt from day one for the Englishman. With a wealth of talent already at the Citizens’ disposal, Javi Garcia was signed soon after Rodwell joined to provide stiff competition for even a bench role at the club.
He isn’t the first player to have his head turned by the Etihad club and he won’t be the last. Worryingly for Roy Hodgson and the English FA, Manchester City has become something of a graveyard for English talent in the last few seasons. Gareth Barry made a loan move to Everton permanent this season, James Milner is constantly on the fringes of first-team football and Scott Sinclair (remember him?) plays the odd friendly while collecting a nice pay packet no doubt.
Now, hindsight is a wonderful thing and had Rodwell not struggled with injury problems over his time in Manchester maybe he would have been able to make a better fist of locking down a place in the starting eleven. Unfortunately for the player this was not the case and two seasons of unfulfilled potential have passed by with very little to show.
He now joins a club that escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and will likely spend this season in another dogfight near the foot of the league table. Meanwhile, his former employers on Merseyside will be ambitiously seeking a spot in the elusive top four.
At 23, Rodwell is no longer a youngster but certainly has time on his side. He will need to prove that the potential he once had still lingers and can be realised with regular playing time. This will also depend on his ability to avoid injury, something he has been unable to do over the last couple of years.
Something he will struggle to shake is the mercenary tag which was applied to him the minute he left his boyhood club. However, his time at Everton has shown us that he should have the ability to succeed in a Sunderland side that is still likely to struggle this season.
Should Rodwell once again prove himself as an excellent defensive midfield prospect, it would be no surprise to be see him lured away to pastures greener at a ‘bigger’ club. This is the danger for Sunderland in handing this once excellent prospect a shot at redemption.
Colm Hayes, Pundit Arena.