Everton signed Jack Rodwell at the age of seven and his potential was clear from the start. With an Under 18s début at 14, Rodwell surged through the ranks. A reserve début followed at 15 with a full début secured by 16. On a cold night in Alkmaar, Rodwell became Everton’s youngest ever player in Europe at the age of 16 years and 284 days.
The following season, the midfielder broke into the first team and scored his first Everton goal. Over the next two years, Rodwell continued to prove himself and signed a new five-year deal. However, injuries began to hamper the youngster with each good run broken up by injury.
Last season, Rodwell’s progress slowly stopped. Making just 14 appearances, he picked up more yellow (3) and red cards (1) than goals (2) and assists (1). Having risen through the ranks, Rodwell’s career was suddenly stagnating.
Given Rodwell’s recent injuries, the transfer caught everyone off guard; the player himself was somewhat reluctant to leave. Everton accepted a £12 million bid with another £5 million in add-ons. With the deal finalised on Sunday night, Rodwell signed a five-year deal. Ironically, many Everton fans viewed the forthcoming season as Rodwell’s chance to fulfil his potential.
Compared to the other central midfielders, Rodwell attempted the lowest number of tackles. The low number of tackles relates to the player’s injury hit season; Rodwell only managed 926 minutes of football. Despite the low numbers, Rodwell’s tackling accuracy (83%) is above the team average (78%).
With a chance every two games and an assist every 10, creativity is not Rodwell’s forte. In terms of creativity and flair, Rodwell’s loss is not damaging but his potential lies in other areas.
Rodwell ended the season as Everton’s best passer with an accuracy of 87%. Despite the impressive figures, this statistic is misleading as he often errs on the cautious side. With 65% of his passes played sideways, Rodwell favours the simple over the dynamic.
Despite the safety first element, Rodwell’s passing accuracy is impressive. His passing statistics, in all areas of the pitch, are comfortably above the Everton averages. Given his poor creative figures and the low number of final third passes, Rodwell appears more suited to a holding midfield role.
Rodwell’s passing percentages emphasise his suitability for a defensive role. Rodwell makes 43% of passes in his own half with the Everton average at 34%. Furthermore, two-thirds of Everton’s passes are in the opposition half; compared to just 57% of Rodwell’s passes. His final third passing is also down on the Everton average.
With Rodwell’s accurate tackling and precise passing, he appears tailor-made for the holding midfield role. Despite Rodwell’s undoubted potential, Everton could not afford to have a player of such value warming the bench. A fee upwards of £10 million was always likely to force a sale. Although, for a player of such potential, some may feel £12 million is not enough.
Roberto Mancini has spoken of his admiration for Rodwell, “He’s young and he’s a good player for our future”. However, the Italian was also quick to dampen expectations, “Jack Rodwell is a young player who needs to improve to play at this level”. Mancini’s comments suggest Rodwell will have to wait for a chance but, in time, he may become Gareth Barry’s long-term successor.
From Everton’s viewpoint, the sale of one of the club’s assets had an air of inevitability about it. David Moyes will have planned for this and he will set about strengthening a threadbare squad. Once again, new signings are necessary as Everton run the risk of another poor start.
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