Jack Rodwell is the future. Apparently. He’s certainly got the potential to be a truly great player in the next 10 years and will almost certainly go for 10s if not 20s of millions if he’s sold by Everton in the near future. He’s also, coincidentally, exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United need right now.
Rodwell, 18, can play as either a central midfielder or a defender and with United suffering this season from lapses in an inconsistent and often unstable back line, along with a lack of true bite and fresh world class quality in their midfield, Rodwell fits the bill perfectly. With super crock Owen Hargreaves seeming less and less likely to ever return to first team football, Darren Fletcher developing into a more attack minded center man and the future of Anderson still up in air, Ferguson will most likely look to strengthen his defensive midfield options in the summer. With the World Cup on the horizon, he’ll be wary of the ridiculous inflation the tournament often brings. Any stand out performers will be priced with clubs such as United in mind, and with worries over their financial situation still hanging over the club, Ferguson may well be forced to look for better, more worthwhile investments.
Rodwell will still come with a large price tag. The fact he has a contract with Everton until 2014 means any prospective suitors will have to circumnavigate that somehow, and by which I mean pay more. However the lad is an immense prospect and his value will almost certainly rise with the notoriety and reputation he will likely gain from a prolonged stint in the Everton side. As with Wayne Rooney, Fergie would want to get in there early, implement a series of “what if” clauses which would allow him to pay less up front with any extra costs offset by prospective success.
English stars aren’t known for moving abroad, but Chelsea’s successful appeal of their transfer ban, and the rapidly aging state of their squad means they’ll most likely be after his signature too. Arsenal are short in that position as well, and the recently flushed Manchester City are rarely shy about going after a player they’d consider a future “Global Franchise Entity”. His stature at Everton would surely rule out a move to Liverpool but they’ll be more than enough competition for his signature to persuade Ferguson sooner is better than later. The Glazer family may also feel a large dip in the transfer market might go some way to quelling the gathering storm of protests that reached a new high on Sunday at Wembley with more green and gold on show than red in the clubs Carling Cup Final victory.
It’s unclear just how much money the Glazers have made available to Sir Alex, despite assurances from himself and David Gill that there is plenty to go round. However regardless of how much he’ll cost – and it will be a lot – with his reputation only likely to rise, the question is not whether United can afford him, but whether Ferguson can afford not to make a move as soon as possible.