When Serbian youngster Zoran Tosic arrived at Old Trafford in 2008, he represented the latest in a line of Manchester United signings purchased as bargain buys with the potential for significant sell-on value.
Roped in with the likes of Mame Biram Diouf, Bebe and Angelo Henriquez, Tosic was seen as an inexpensive gamble in a transfer market that was increasingly offering less and less value to clubs seeking out diamonds in the rough.
He had previously shone in Serbia with Partizan Belgrade, the latest product of the Steamrollers youth production line and a player tipped for big things.
Yet, for whatever reason, his development at Old Trafford was stunted, to say the least.
It wasn’t so much that he failed to impress Sir Alex Ferguson - he rarely got a chance to, with the winger playing a grand total of 79 minutes of first-team football.
Behind the scenes, however, there were some bright spots.
Though he failed to make a first-team appearance in his first season at Old Trafford, he was a regular in the reserve team that finished second in the Premier Reserve League and he also netted the winner in the 2009 Manchester Senior Cup.
Granted, both accolades represented minor achievements but they certainly signalled some signs of life for Tosic, who went on the score his first senior goal during a pre-season friendly in Asia.
A loan move to Cologne in the Bundesliga back in January 2010 brought more good news, with Tosic scoring five goals in 14 appearances for the German side.
But upon his return to the Red Devils, the Serbian still found his route to the first team blocked and a difficult, career-defining decision in the offing.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Record, Tosic explained:
“When I came back to Manchester I was expecting to play more games for United but it didn’t happen,”
“In the end I wasn’t sure I was going to get the chance I felt I deserved so decided to change club. Even now I am always thinking about that moment … Maybe I should have stayed and fought for my place.”
Such regrets, however, while understandable given the club involved, fail to acknowledge the two Russian Premier League titles and Russian Cups won by the Serbian since he moved to CSKA Moscow in June of that same year.
And now, as Tosic prepares for a return to his former club, it’s fair to say that the 28-year-old is in rude health on the pitch.
A goalscorer in both of CSKA’s last two league outings – both of which resulted in wins – the winger was also on the scoresheet on his last outing for the Serbia national team.
On course to beat his best-ever tally of goals for a single season at CSKA, Tosic is a more complete player than the one who left Manchester five years ago.
Capable of playing on either flank, the Serbian has a real eye for goal and a penchant for shooting from distance, with his ability from dead-ball situations already well documented in Russia.
Allied to this, however, is a renewed focus on team play, with Tosic capable of providing the killer through pass or layoff when required.
Capable of holding up the ball and bringing others into the action, he’s also the ideal foil for fellow CSKA stars like Seydou Doumbia.
He may forever be remembered among Premier League fans as a player who didn’t quite make the grade at Manchester United but a few impressive turns in the Champions League, starting with one at Old Trafford, and that could change.