There were high hopes for Tom Cleverley when he broke into Manchester United’s first team.
He was a bright, energetic central midfielder who had the potential to replicate a young Paul Scholes with his neat short passing and his ability to link-up play further up the pitch, as well as both creating and scoring goals.
After breaking into United’s first team back in 2011-12, Cleverley hit the ground running, making himself an established member of the starting eleven after impressive displays in the Community Shield win over Manchester City and the 8-2 thumping of Arsenal.
However, a serious ankle injury caused by a horrific Kevin Davies tackle cut his original breakthrough short and although Cleverley won a Premier League winners medal in 2013, forging a magnificent partnership with Michael Carrick, he was never quite the same player.
When David Moyes took charge, Cleverley lost all confidence and became a major scapegoat for most of United’s on-field issues. It has seen him move on loan to Aston Villa this season, much to the delight of the majority of the United fan-base.
He proved during his three seasons in United’s first team that he is not good enough to hold down a regular slot in a team like that. He is too negative with his passing and rarely weighs in with goals or assists.
Although value is there as he is available on a free transfer, the two North London sides would be making a mistake in bringing him to their club.
After a season out of the spotlight at Old Trafford, Cleverley appears to have found his feet again and has shown that a club like Villa, who look like finishing just below mid-table, is about his level.
Cleverley is not a top-class midfielder but he is by no means a poor footballer and he should remain at Villa Park to continue his revival next season.