Back in May, the Telegraph suggested that Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood was keeping a close eye on Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Alex Pritchard, with a view to potentially making a loan bid this summer.
The report claimed Sherwood would wait to see what his successor Mauricio Pochettino thought of Pritchard during pre-season, and if the decision was made to send him back out on loan, Villa would head the queue.
So if those claims are true, could Tom Cleverley’s decision to sign not for Villa but for Everton have made a move for Pritchard more important than before?
Cleverley played a vital role in Villa’s resurgence under Sherwood and the manager will no doubt be disappointed to have seen the England international opt for a permanent move to Goodison Park. But the task now is to find another midfielder who can not only step into the Villa first-team but also have a positive impact once there.
Pritchard may only be 22, but he showed on loan at newly-promoted Brentford that he is a wonderful player, scoring 12 goals and providing seven assists this season.
If he is available the Bees are sure to be interested once again, but Villa should make their move, replacing Cleverley with a player who may feature slightly closer to goal but who has all the attributes to succeed under his former Tottenham manager Sherwood.
In many ways, Pritchard is the player Manchester United fans felt Cleverley could be – an attacking midfielder with the ability to both score and create. Indeed on loan at Wigan Athletic earlier in his career, Cleverley excelled in that very role under Roberto Martinez.
So while the Tottenham youngster is as yet unproven in the top flight, signing him on loan would involve no risk and could ultimately prove to be a master-stroke for Villa.