Look at the list of players Jack Rodwell, Manchester City’s latest expensive signing, has to compete with for a place in the champion’s midfield – James Milner, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Toure. Does anyone see him getting too much playing time?
For £15 million, you expect to bring a star player. Instead, City landed a talented 21 year old who has been through a few injury struggles in recent seasons, with 85 appearances and 5 goals for Everton since 2008 and 2 caps for the English national team. A star? Maybe in the future, but he’s not there yet, and he won’t get there by sitting on the bench.
Take Adam Johnson for example, recently celebrating his 25th birthday. Instead of being a starting left winger for the English national team, Johnson spends his time mostly coming off the bench and waiting for an opportunity to grab a spot in the City lineup. Being an Englishman doesn’t help you win a lineup spot when you have an Italian manager.
Young talents, and there’s no arguing about Johnson being extremely talented, need minutes, regular minutes to develop. Johnson did make an appearance 26 times last season, scoring six goals, also overcoming injury. Not enough for a player who should be one of the more important players for the national team.
And now comes Rodwell, a player no one is sure how to describe. A deep lying playmaker, or an attacking midfielder who likes to hang back a bit? Everyone agrees that defending isn’t his strong suit, which makes it problematic putting him in instead of someone like Gareth Barry who is very capable of doing both rather well, or even Nigel de Jong, although the Dutchman might be the man to lose his place now that Rodwell has arrived.
Rodwell is young, and it’s not a lost cause. But the fear is that City just added another bolt to their fine tuned machine, without much intent on using him according to his price. It’s good to have English players in your squad for the European competitions quotas, even if the chance of him becoming a prominent figure on the pitch for the champions is pretty small.
In all, maybe it was just to silence Roberto Mancini for a bit, giving him the funds to finally sign a player despite the fact that he hasn’t gotten rid of the players the board wants him to offload. Rodwell, at least this season, is a long shot to make much of a difference, but it seems he was bought for none of the right reasons, which doesn’t suggest we’ll see him playing for City plenty for a long long time.