Jack Rodwell looks a risk worth taking for Sheffield United
Sheffield United have opted to hand midfielder Jack Rodwell the chance to resurrect his career with a short-term deal at Bramall Lane.
Rodwell began his career at Everton and back in 2012 was rated as one of the hottest prospects in England when he made a £12million move to Manchester City, who were the new champions after landing their first league title in the Premier League era.
In the intervening years his career has nosedived. Rodwell was unable to force his way into City’s star-studded line-up and left after two seasons, during which time he managed just 25 appearances in total for Sunderland in a £10m deal.
His time on Wearside was nothing short of a disaster. Sunderland dropped down to the Championship and then League One in consecutive seasons. Rodwell’s final campaign was the solitary season in the second tier, and his departure was an acrimonious one as he was criticised for sticking with the club on a big salary while either in the treatment room or being forced to train with youth teams after refusing to leave.
Last season Rodwell played for Blackburn in the Championship and was offered a new deal but chose not to sign it and departed in the summer. He was linked with Italian outfit Roma, but they decided not to offer him a contract.
It may seem like a risk for Sheffield United to take a punt on a player who hasn’t played in the Premier League since the 2016/17 season. However, the risk is minimal given no transfer fee is involved and the 28-year-old is likely to be on modest wages, considering there was no apparent competition for his signature.
Blades boss Chris Wilder made a similar move bringing in former Manchester United man Ravel Morrison in the summer and it hasn’t worked out. The midfielder has been unable to force his way into the side but with little financial outlay it was a chance worth taking, even if it hasn’t paid off.
Sheffield United simply can’t compete financially with most of their Premier League rivals and Wilder has to be smart in the transfer market. If Rodwell can get anywhere near the kind of form that he enjoyed at Everton then the South Yorkshire club will have a real bargain on their hands, and if not they haven’t lost too much.
This isn’t a move the club have rushed into either, Rodwell has been training with United and Wilder has clearly been sufficiently impressed as he has offered him a contract.
Rodwell is primarily a defensive midfielder but mostly played at centre-half for Rovers last term. That kind of versatility could well be invaluable for the Blades who are having to cope with a relatively small squad.
It may not be a marquee capture or a headline grabber for Wilder and United, but signing Rodwell could be a shrewd move nonetheless.
Rodwell has signed on until the end of the season and the option is there to extend it further if the Blades see fit. The risks are small, but the payout could be huge if the gamble pays off.