LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget only managed one senior appearance in six years at West Ham United but, after making a sensational start to life in MLS, one could be forgiven for wondering whether the Premier League club made a mistake letting him go.
Speaking to ESPN FC about the former US Under-23 international, who returned to the States in May, West Ham academy director Terry Westley explained the reasons why the club ended up deeming him surplus to requirements last season.
"The fear was Lletget couldn't sustain [a high level] over a longer period, and that was why he was with the U-21 development group and not the first-team group," said Westley, who coached Lletget with the Under-21s. "In possession of the ball, and being creative, he was undeniably a talent. Without the ball, he wasn't tactically where he needed to be, he had more to learn tactically when he didn't have the ball."
In addition, Westley also suggested that Lletget’s creativity may have ultimately worked against him during his time at Upton Park, adding: "In England – and I think it's a fault – do you want that flair player, that risky player, that maverick? I used to say to him, 'You're a bit of a maverick.' Our managers, if you get six bad results in England, you'll probably lose your job.
"Are they willing to take a risk on someone like that or not? And clearly the decision was [that] they weren't, in England."
Lletget, 23, initially joined West Ham in June 2009 after impressing scouts while playing for local club Sporting Santa Clara, and soon established himself as one of the Premier League side’s top prospects.
Despite his lauded potential, though, the California-native never managed to feature in the Premier League for the Hammers, as he made his lone first-team outing in the infamous 5-0 FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest in 2014.
Nevertheless, the versatile playmaker has proved an absolute revelation for the Galaxy since his mid-season arrival, establishing himself as the first-choice starter on the left wing, while bagging an impressive eight goals in 19 total appearances.
His skilful contributions in the attacking third have not gone unnoticed among his LA teammates either, with club captain and ex-West Ham colleague Robbie Keane among those to single him out for praise of late.
“He’s not your typical left winger,” Keane told lagalaxy.com last month. “He comes inside a lot, he comes off the line and makes it hard for defenders because you don’t know if he’s coming inside or outside.
“He’s good on the ball, very clever, and he scores goals. The hardest thing to do in football is score goals, and he’s doing it with a lot of confidence.
“He’s doing well for the team.”
It certainly says something that Lletget has still managed to stand out on the Galaxy after the recent arrivals of big-name summer signings Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos, and there is now substantial support for him to earn a first senior international call-up.
He missed out on the squad for the September friendlies against Peru and Brazil - much to the chagrin of fans - but, if he can keep up his current form during the MLS Cup holders’ quest for a fourth title in five seasons, then he will prove almost impossible for Jurgen Klinsmann to ignore.