When Tom Cleverley joined Aston Villa on loan from Manchester United the day after the transfer window closed, it was reported that both sides had options they could exercise come January.
Villa had an option to buy, widely regarded as totaling £7.5 million. United had an option to recall.
We're now in January and quite honestly, I don't see either of them happening.
While I'd say that Cleverley's had a solid campaign at Villa — until late, I hadn't felt like he had really put a foot wrong — he certainly hasn't put in any performances worthy of spending that kind of money on a guy whose contract at Old Trafford is set to expire at the end of the season.
On the flip side, United isn't going to recall him. He hasn't played anywhere near well enough to worthy a return to the United squad and he appeared for them in a Premier League match early in the season. Thus if my understanding of player registration rules is correct, he wouldn't be eligible to feature for anyone else this season, ruling out the possibility of United recalling him just to ship him off somewhere else.
So what should Villa do here?
If I were in Paul Lambert's shoes, I'd be on the phone with Louis van Gaal trying to negotiate a lower price to facilitate the deal. United get something tangible for a player they'll be letting go in the summer and Villa get a midfield option for a decent price.
On the flip, the club could let it go and do nothing with Cleverley this window, opting to simply try and sign him on a free when his United deal is up. That, however, runs the risk of the English midfielder going elsewhere.
In a system that utilizes three central midfielders, Villa might need Cleverley around for squad depth.
Let us know what you think — should Villa do nothing, try and negotiate a lower price, or just pay in full now?