John Lundstram was sent on-loan six different times by Everton, from a period spanning between February 2013 to April 2015 – when he was still just a “talented teenager” tipped with “the technique to become a Premier League footballer.”
However, after stagnating in his final loan spells at Leyton Orient and then at Scunthorpe United, he was released and signed by League Two side Oxford United, who quickly realised his potential and gave him not just a starting role, but also the captain’s armband in his second season – aged just 22.
His development caught the eye of Championship side Sheffield United, and there he made 120 appearances, including 62 in the Premier League, scoring five and assisting five during his two seasons in the top flight.
After letting his contract expire at Bramall Lane, Scottish side Rangers snapped him up on a free, and despite not making the best start under Steven Gerrard, new boss Giovanni Van Bronckhorst has revived his career on the north side of the border and turned him into a key player.
His recent performances have led to former Blades boss Chris Wilder drawing comparisons between him and the legendary Bryan Robson, saying: “There would have been many admirers down here trying to get him back. But he’s been patient, he’s back in the team and both John and Rangers are getting the rewards now.
“He could have played as a No.6 for us at Sheffield United as well but he was probably more of an eight, a box-to-box guy. He has great energy to get up and down the pitch.
“He can play in a two or a three in midfield and he’s old-school. He’s like a throwback to [Bryan] Robson.
“He can pass it, he can head it, he can tackle and he can get in the box to score. He can do everything.
“But we seem to have got away from this notion of just being a good, proper midfield player. That’s what John is.”
The 28-year-old midfielder has continued to show Everton what they missed out on this season, accurately completing 90% of his passes in the Scottish Premiership, including 68% of his long balls as well as completing 90% of his dribbles.
He’s the kind of energetic box-to-box midfield player who is comfortable in possession – which the Toffees lack right now, and with them heading towards the relegation zone in the Premier League and Lundstram dreaming of the UEFA Europa League title after knocking out Borussia Dortmund in the last round, it is clear that the player made the right choices in his career, while Everton missed out on a gem.