Everton and England midfielder has made a surprise move to Manchester City, joining the English champions for an initial fee of £12m. The 21-year-old midfielder has joined the England squad ahead of the friendly against Italy in Switzerland, and will be available for City at the weekend – as long as he doesn’t get injured.
A prolific international at various age levels, Southport-born Rodwell broke into the senior squad last season and made his debut as a substitute against Spain. It is injuries that make this move something of a puzzling one to the neutral observer. Rodwell is a highly respected player and is widely expected to be a regular England international, but he was ruled out of UEFA Euro 2012 contention by the latest in a worrying line of hamstring injuries.
In a sense, it’s not a surprise that City have moved to include Rodwell in their squad – he is home-grown, after all – but the timing is something over which to mull. For all his potential and existing quality, Rodwell’s injury problems have been enormously restrictive. He made only 17 appearances for Everton last season, 14 in the Premier League, his fewest since 2008/09. For £12m, one might have expected to keep their powder dry. Analysing his return to form and fitness could have been a more prudent option, and it’s not as if super-rich City were likely to miss out on him should he come to the attention of other clubs.
Regardless, this is likely to become a familiar way of doing business for the new champions. Like Chelsea in the immediate aftermath of Roman Abramovich’s takeover, there is – quite justifiably – a desire to bring in talented young British players, whether that’s to meet a regulatory requirement or psychological wish. Players like Rodwell come through the youth systems at their clubs and may well already be on the radars of others, and when those clubs have the kinds of money that make Chelsea and City so powerful it may simply be a matter of waiting for the player to prove his worth at Premier League level.
And while I like Rodwell as a player and largely expect him to fulfil his potential, I don’t think he’s done so just yet, primarily because his development of two and three seasons ago was partially clawed back by injury last term. This, then, is a big show of confidence from his new club. Let’s hope he doesn’t end up playing only 14 times a season because of the strength of their squad rather than his own injury problems.