As spring starts to get a proper grip around the country, the inevitable sign of the approaching denouement of the Premier League season is the reawakening of transfer speculation in the press.
For Everton fans, this means the return of conjecture linking their boy wonder, Jack Rodwell, with treble chasing Manchester United.
It seems ever since Rodwell made his debut for the Toffees in 2007, the link between the midfielder and a club playing top level European football, has been inescapable.
Everton have hardly had a strong campaign this year, and will be mindful that their struggle for consistency may represent a glass ceiling that without substantial financial investment, the current side will be unable to break through.
If Rodwell decides to leave Goodison, it would appear a move to Manchester United would be one of the few practical alternatives in the Premier League.
The midfielder is not yet one season into a five year deal with Everton – the suggestion being that should Sir Alex Ferguson want the 20 year-old, he may have to pay a healthy price.
David Moyes has experienced the pain of losing his brightest and best to United before, and will be loathe to allow one of his key men to leave, despite the well publicised tight purse strings on the blue half of Merseyside.
The difference between Rodwell and the saga involving Wayne Rooney seven years ago, is that the Everton midfielder has consistently reiterated his desire to remain a part of David Moyes’ squad. Both he and the club have been mindful of the interest shown by interested suitors and as yet no serious thought of leaving has been broadcast.
Should a deal be brokered, questions would be asked about how regularly Rodwell could expect to play in a side that may well start the next season as treble winners.
Manchester United’s engine room is in an interesting position at present – the new contract signed by Michael Carrick earlier this month and partial indication of where the club see the short term future of the team. Owen Hargreaves remains sidelined, and Paul Scholes has yet to tie himself to his current employers past the summer.
Presumably, with Darren Fletcher and Darron Gibson also in the mix, a move for Rodwell would only be sanctioned if one or more of these players were to leave Old Trafford in the summer.
United fans may argue that in any case the acquisition of Rodwell would be a strong move from Ferguson and recognition that certainly for Hargreaves, the end of the road has been reached. There is no doubt that despite the exciting nature of this season, all of the big sides have issues to deal with and there are few at Old Trafford that would grumble about the signing of Everton’s crown jewel.
Regardless of how the next few months progress, you can be sure that when David Moyes takes his summer break in June, he will struggle to relax with one of the biggest sharks swimming around his midfield protégé.
Written by Cameron Sharpe for Footbal FanCast