There is a top player inside Jack Rodwell… somewhere.
During his years at Everton he has shown, admittedly in glimpses, that he has virtually every attribute required in order to shine in the Premier League. He is naturally two footed, noticeably athletic, an elegant passer and particularly versatile. When he made his Everton debut five years ago, this potential was held in high regard by all those at the club and he was starting to demonstrate examples of this.
I recall watching him in a game against Fulham on the last day of the 2008/09 season and his performance was one of poise and maturity. I came away from the ground excited about this invigorating young English talent I’d just watched, who bossed a Premier League game at the age of just 18.
Since that season, I think its fair to say that midfielder hasn’t really developed that much. In some games he has flourished, but not many. He has scored some excellent goals, but not enough. And for all the potential and aforementioned attributes he possesses, he has never managed to put together a run of games in the Everton midfield, unable to dislodge the likes of Tim Cahill or Mikel Arteta, or more recently, Marouane Fellaini and Darron Gibson. This has come down to his poor injury record, or simply not being good enough to push for a first team place.
Despite this, throughout his short career he has drawn the attention of a lot of the top teams across Europe. None of which have felt prepared to take a punt on him until his move to Champions Manchester City in the last few days. It is the big move that many predicted Rodwell would undergo in his career when he burst on to the scene, but not quite in the same circumstances.
On the face of it, the deal for Rodwell (muted to be around £12m, with the opportunity to increase to £15m) looks to be a good bit of business for both of the clubs involved. Manchester City has another young English player to help meet their quota of ‘home grown’ players for their 25-man squad who could go on to be a very useful acquisition, whereas Everton have offloaded a player who was never really a first team regular for a sum they can invest in other areas of the team.
It seems the only party who may not be happy about the move is Rodwell himself. I’ve always said that the best way for Jack Rodwell to develop is with time on the pitch. For a young player, especially one who has been beset by injuries so far in his short career, this game time is crucial. Unfortunately for Rodwell, he has not received that yet.
Mancini himself has admitted that the 21-year-old is not ready for the Manchester City first team yet, and you have to wonder how long he will waiting for a regular spell in the side, or even an appearance. Will he really command a starting place in central midfield before the likes of Toure, Barry, De Jong, Milner and Nasri? Sure, he may get some playing time when some of his colleagues are in the Africa Cup of Nations, but that’s five months away. He will no doubt cast a nervy look at the likes of Adam Johnson, whose career now appears to have stagnated at the club after he himself signed for a hefty fee.
The bright potential Rodwell showed in his early years is not beyond rescue, but if he fails to get the game time at Manchester City which he so badly requires, then it could be extinguished altogether.
How do you see Rodwell fitting in to the City side? Will this be the start of a number of signings for City? Where will Everton look to strengthen with the funds received?
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