It would be grossly unfair if one underwhelming season determined the trajectory of a player’s career but such is the emphasis on the present in modern football – and the utmost need for consistency – that a sustained loss of form can result in a reputation being forever diminished.
That is now the scenario facing the five talents below after each endured a disappointing 2016/17 and while there is no disputing their considerable ability they have – fairly or otherwise – seen their stock plummet since the heady days of last summer. The question is: where does that leave them now?
This term started badly for the 22-year-old with public criticism from his new boss ringing in his ears and an international omission. Barring the odd decent performance the situation has barely improved since.
After being substituted at half-time against Sunderland way back in September the talented midfielder knuckled down and put in some fine displays but the barbed comments – clearly made in frustration – by Ronald Koeman kept on coming and the ineffectual games began to rack up.
It seems an awfully long time ago now that Barkley was feted as a future Gazza while being linked to Manchester City and with his contract negotiations stalled in deadlock it seems the prospect of him flourishing into the Evertonian legend he was once destined to be is now a distant dream.
Despite only going backwards this season the pedigree of clubs sniffing around remains high indeed with Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs in the reckoning according to the papers. Southampton it is then.
“If he wants to become a special player he has to go in a certain direction”. So said Jose Mourinho this season on a winger/striker who arrived at Old Trafford from Monaco in 2015 saddled with a huge price-tag and even bigger expectations. A bright start offered the world but even the most optimistic of Reds would have to concede that Martial has failed to fulfil that early promise leading to limited game-time and a crisis of confidence.
The French youngster’s stats are surprisingly okay-ish (4 league goals and six assists) considering his gradual relegation to the margins but ultimately United didn’t spend £36m for okay-ish and that direction Jose referred to could yet be away from England this summer.
Persistent links to PSG seem fanciful especially as he has recently been used as an example in France on why Kylian Mbappe should avoid coming to the Premier League. A loan deal to Lyon though has plausibility to it.
From being PFA Player of the Year to a flop in just under a year is quite a descent but it would be quite wrong to dismiss the Algerian as a one season wonder based on how sharply his form contrasts this time out to last.
For one thing Leicester’s collective struggles need to be factored in while it is perhaps understandable that such a dramatic individual rise has given way to a sophomore slump.
Even so, it appears very unlikely that Arsenal will be returning with another monster bid this summer for a winger who has seen his contributions from the right plunge from 18 goals and 10 assists in 2015/16 to 6 goals and 3 assists since August. Stat-wise that makes Mahrez a third of the player he so recently was.
The 26 year old has reserved his best performances for the Champions League and has made no secret of his desire to compete in the competition next year.
Spurs have accrued an unwelcome reputation for buying striking duds down the years – Roberto Soldado anyone? – and unfortunately it appears that Janssen is set to join the not-so-illustrious list.
Purchased for £17m from AZ last July the 22 year old was entrusted to take some of the strain off Harry Kane but only succeeded in giving supporters palpitations as a dive in self-belief led to him hiding around the centre-circle to avoid the prospect of another six-yard miss.
As good as Janssen could still be in England at least he has become a confidence player devoid of confidence and an opportunistic striker not given opportunities.
Still highly regarded in Holland it is entirely possible that Spurs could recoup much of their outlay.
So calamitous has the Chilean proven to be that it seems cruel to kick through the ashes of his season but one statistic stands out above the gaffes and spills: at the height of his depths the 112-cap international conceded 17 goals from 26 shots on target.
Presently injured and not expected to be back until the autumn it is as likely to be at City as Luke Shaw being made captain across town.
A return to La Liga beckons for a cut-price fee, a fee City would probably be happy to pay themselves.