Tom Cleverley has gone from being an England regular and burgeoning Manchester United midfielder in 2013 to being a forgotten man internationally and a soon-to-be free agent.
That’s not to say the 25-year-old has been letting his career fade into oblivion though and a loan move to Aston Villa this season is starting to pay dividends as the season ebbs to a close.
Having been shackled by Paul Lambert earlier in the campaign, causing the Basingstoke native to suffer familiar criticism over cautious play, Cleverley looks rejuvenated under new Villa boss Tim Sherwood.
That improvement, which sees the former Watford and Wigan loannee take a more attacking mindset with the ball at his feet, has the Midlands club strongly considering moving to make his stay at the club permanent.
The 13-cap international is out of contract at Old Trafford this summer and is unlikely to be offered new terms as the Red Devils continue to surge under Louis van Gaal.
Everton are reportedly ready to challenge Villa for Cleverley’s services, but the injection Sherwood has given his career should sway the player towards claret and blue.
An all-English tripod of Cleverley, Fabien Delph and Ashley Westwood, with Colombian Carlos Sanchez providing back up, certainly contains enough industry and ability on the ball to form the bedrock of Sherwood’s plans for next season.
With the opportunity to pick their temporary midfielder up for nothing sure to appeal to the famous misers, the only obstacle standing in Villa’s way looks to be Cleverley’s wage demands.
If he’s serious about continuing to rebuild his career though, the crab-like passer should temper any urge to make outlandish demands.
After picking up a vital three points in their Premier League survival plight against Spurs last time out, Villa go into their FA Cup semi-final on a high and are 9/2 to scupper Liverpool’s trophy plans.
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