Three years is a long time for anyone in football but for Ibrahim Afellay, the last three years have probably felt like the longest in what had once been a bright career that saw him draw comparisons with Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart.
But while that Dutch midfield pairing have arguably endured difficult times since 2011, their woes pale in comparison to that of Afellay.
Three years ago the Dutch midfield maestro was one of the hottest properties in world football, having risen through the ranks at PSV Eindhoven – the club he joined as a child way back in 1996.
A tally of 38 goals in 217 appearances for the Eredivisie side – many of which came in the Champions League – saw Afellay garner plenty of attention from Europe’s biggest clubs, but the youngster appeared to only have eyes for only one destination: the Premier League.
"Playing in the Premier League would be best for my prestige," he told reporters during an interview conducted back in 2010.
"I'd like to play for Liverpool or Manchester United, the top-level prospect for any player."
But when the time came to make his long-awaited move, Afellay had a change of heart – joining Pep Guardiola at Barcelona in a cut-price €3 million deal.
It proved to be a mistake as injuries, a loss of form and a troubled loan spell with Schalke in Germany hindered any progress, with Afellay’s first-team chances hardly helped by the fact that, like Alexis Sanchez after him, he was forced to play second fiddle to Lionel Messi.
Now 28, the Dutchman is reportedly closing in on a move to Besiktas. But with Manchester United looking to rebuild this season under Louis van Gaal, would the former Oranje manager be wise to take a look at the forgotten Holland star?
Afellay would most likely be available at a bargain price and if the Dutch manager is confident that his coaching skills can help the Reds get the best out of stars like Nani and Ashley Young, then perhaps there is hope for this forgotten Barcelona man.
Any move for Afellay would need to be a swift one, however, with the Turkish giants closing in on a deal for the midfielder but, provided he can stay injury free and regain some confidence, it could prove to be an unbelievable bargain and one potentially worth gambling on.