Well, so much for that (free) idea. After we heard yesterday that Tom Cleverley looked set to sign for Everton rather than the Aston Villa club that revived his career, we now have official confirmation. Cleverley will begin a new five-year contract with Roberto Martinez' club on July 1, when his current contract with Manchester United is up.
To briefly recap: Cleverley looked like a rising star at Manchester United. Then he became bad. So they loaned him to Aston Villa where, for two thirds of the season, he continued to look bad. And then Paul Lambert left, was replaced by Tim Sherwood, and suddenly Cleverley was a vital part of a revived Aston Villa midfield along with England international Fabian Delph.
In January, Villa rightly demurred at the chance to buy Cleverley for £7 million. But now that they had the opportunity to get him for free, he's slipped away. On Cleverley's part, this strikes me as a pretty dumb move. He was playing wonderfully alongside Delph and played well enough to start getting calls to be a part of the England team again (which, by the way, he was called up for today as a replacement for Ryan Mason). So he finally finds a manager that he plays well for and features regularly alongside a fellow England international (and will thus be regularly watched by England) and he... leaves.
From Villa's stand point, this strikes me as a pretty dumb move. They had an England international midfielder paired with their other England midfielder and he was available for free. Take the money you might have spent (or heck, half of it) and tack it on to his wages and entice him to stay. Shouldn't have been that hard.
But no, the lure of playing for the second-ran team in Liverpool was too much. So now he's gone.
What a stupid turn of events.