After transfer deadline day came and went, most Aston Villa fans could be forgiven for assuming Tom Cleverley wouldn’t be joining the club.
Having looked set for an £8 million switch to the midlands entering the weekend, the Manchester United midfielder’s high wage demands appeared to have put paid to a potential deal, with Everton instead emerging as the front-runners for his signature.
The 25-year-old England international was reportedly keen to reunite with Roberto Martinez, having enjoyed a successful loan spell under the Spaniard at Wigan Athletic during 2010-11 campaign, but the club's late offer of around £5 million was rejected, and prompted Villa to re-open talks at the last minute.
While a deal was eventually struck, the relevant paperwork was submitted at 01:15 after a two-hour extension had been granted, leaving the club with an anxious wait before Premier League finally approved the transfer on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite his parent club's reported preference to sell, Cleverley now arrives at Villa Park on a season-long loan deal, with an option to make the move permanent in January, prior to his United contract expiring in the summer of 2015.
Well-regarded coming up through the Old Trafford youth ranks, a hugely disappointing 2013-14 campaign has seen his reputation take a hit, however, as well as lost him his place in the England squad, with new boss Louis van Gaal deeming him surplus to requirements.
Nevertheless, a spell at Villa could be just what's needed to get his once-promising career back on track, and opinion among fans in fact seems largely optimistic about his prospects this season.
Cleverley was always compared to Scholes or Keane. With the shackles and pressure removed he'll come good. Fergie saw potential! #avfc— Al (@Bigal1985) September 2, 2014
To be honest, I'm pleased with the loan signing of Tom Cleverley. Young, English and has a big point to prove. Can only benefit us #avfc— Jay White (@jaywhite_1) September 2, 2014
Personally delighted with the Cleverley signing, optimistic of top 12 now with the bomb squad back and injured players back #avfc— Jay Willis (@Villa_Jay84) September 2, 2014
Tom Cleverley can be a Villa legend and show Man U what there missing ! Now he's a Villa player let's support him and not mug him off #avfc— michael (@l4rk1n) September 2, 2014
I reckon Cleverley will turn out to be an inspired signing especially in a fast, pass & go midfield. Good interplay with FD & AW. #avfc— Jasmit Kalra-AVFC (@jkalra14) September 2, 2014
#AVFC Tom Cleverley loan deal, could work out. New start and that.— reedar (@60perre) September 2, 2014
Pleased with Cleverley. Decent addition. We slated Senderos, who has arguably become one of our better players so far. Needs time. #avfc— Matt Ashmore (@MattAshmore2) September 2, 2014
Not a big fan of Cleverley at all but he's probably = Westwood & gives us a little depth at cm. #avfc— Andy (@Tebroc1991) September 2, 2014
Can Cleverley revitalise his career at Aston Villa?