After Wigan's relegation from the Premier League, Vincent Ralph suggests one Latics player who could return to a former home.
Transfers don’t always fail because the player isn’t good enough. Sometimes it is a matter of bad timing.
His time in England had been one of disappointment with sporadic glimpses of what might have been – most notably his brace in a 4-4 draw with Chelsea that appeared to signal his coming-of-age in the Premier League.
But that was as good as it got for Villa’s version of Maloney. And despite then-manager Martin O’Neill desperate to keep him – fully aware of the player’s innate ability – it was back to Celtic he went, a homecoming that also prompted a return to form.
When he returned to England – this time with Wigan Athletic – it again took him time to find his feet. But the patience of Roberto Martinez yielded outstanding results, Maloney playing an integral role in the Latics’ survival of 2012.
That he couldn’t repeat the feat last season shouldn’t take away from his influence at the DW Stadium. Nor should it stop potential suitors from trying their hand – one club in particular.
They say you should never go back. But as Villa build very much for the future, they would do well to welcome back a face from their past.
At 30, Maloney is older than practically all of Paul Lambert’s first-team squad. But he is an experienced, hugely talented footballer who could gel perfectly with the current Villa set-up, both tactically and in ethos.
Some fans believe Martinez has taken the wrong Wigan players with him to Everton, and that Maloney should have been signed ahead of the likes of Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz.
In fact Maloney has recently spoken of his admiration for the Spaniard, revealing that he gave him the motivation to improve and overcome the disappointment of previous injuries.
“Any player would love his system and style of football,” Maloney said. “It gets you up in the morning excited about playing for him and going into training.”
With Martinez now gone, could Lambert offer Maloney that excitement and motivation at Villa Park?
Perhaps the Scotland international doesn’t believe in unfinished business. But if he does, a move to the up-and-coming Villans may be the perfect switch for both parties.
Would Villa fans welcome Maloney back to the club? Or is it time to look at new faces?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald