At 16 years-old, some were talking about a young Everton midfielder called Jack Rodwell becoming a future England captain. It may have been the usual hype produced by the British media at times.
However, young Rodwell seemed to have all the attributes to become a top player in the future. The youngster was cool, calm on the ball and seemed to be very mature for his years. He also had the ability to play at centre-back and in central midfield. Some over-enthusiastic observers even compared him to England international Rio Ferdinand. For the midfielder, his football career has all gone horribly wrong.
Could be a free agent
Fast forward to the present day and the midfielder is plying his trade at struggling Championship outfit, Sunderland. If that was not enough, the Black Cats have now offered to rip-up his £70,000 per-week contract. It is a new low for Rodwell.
The midfielder wants to leave the north east club and they need him off the wage bill. The Black Cats have made an offer to Rodwell to cancel his contract. However, according to reports the midfielder and his agent have yet to reply to the offer.
It seems unlikely that Rodwell will be willing to walk away from such wages, especially when he is not exactly going to be in-demand after years of struggling to find form.
Rodwell cost the Black Cats £10million in 2014. The midfielder has since made just 65 appearances for the north east club. Some are labelling him the worst signing in the history of the club.
Grass is not always greener
Like so many young footballers, Jack Rodwell’s head was turned by the major sums of money on offer when he joined Manchester City in 2012. The youngster cost the Citizens £12million and at that point was a hot prospect.
However, Everton fans were not devastated by Rodwell’s departure. The main reason for their apathy towards Rodwell’s exit was that he spent so much time in the treatment room.
He seemed to have talent. However, that is no good if the player is never fit enough to play. Evertonian’s had become impatient with the youngster’s injury lay-offs and in the end, they were glad to get the £12million for the midfielder and move on.
The midfielder struggled to make an impact at City mainly due to his aforementioned injury problems. In 2014, he joined Sunderland for £10million.
Rodwell’s story is very similar to that of another Everton product striker Francis Jeffers, who joined Arsenal for big money as a youngster. They both broke through into the Toffees first-team at young ages and had bright careers ahead of them.
However, instead of staying at Everton, playing regularly, and developing their games, they decided to move away from their boyhood club to ‘bigger clubs’. Had either stayed at Everton would either had fared better?
We will never know. However, they are both examples of the grass not always being greener on the side.
Ross Barkley faces the same perils
Jack Rodwell and Chelsea’s new signing Ross Barkley have a lot in common. Barkley has moved to Chelsea as a bright prospect. The move may just have jeopardised his chances of making the England squad, though, with the midfielder odds of 7/2 to be in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for Russia 2018.
Barkley like Rodwell broke into the Everton first team in his teens and was supposedly the next big English talent. He also made his England debut at a relatively young age.
Barkley took a major gamble in moving to Chelsea, where let’s face it he faces a major scrap to see playing time anytime soon. The midfielder is 24 and question marks remain about his ability to make it at the top level.
For me, Barkley’s situation echoes that of Rodwell’s albeit that Barkley is slightly older than Rodwell when he moved clubs. His exit has also not raised many tears on the blue half of Merseyside.
Anyway, back to Rodwell, at 26-year-old the midfielder could find himself on the football scrapheap. His injury history and lack of progression is likely to deter any clubs in the top-flight, which means that the midfielder may find it hard to find a new club.
No doubt, Rodwell is not going to starve because of his massive wages for the majority of the last decade. However, his story is a cautionary tale for young players who are considered moving to the so-called ‘big six’ clubs in the Premier League.
Can Jack Rodwell resurrect his football career?
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