A season in League One can be the making of a club; you only have to ask Leicester City, Southampton or Wolves. All three have spent time in the third tier, all three bounced back and have enjoyed Premier League success.
In each instance, the clubs found players at that level who excelled and later made themselves household names. One of the most prominent would be Adam Lallana, the Southampton midfielder who ended up at Liverpool and later in an England shirt. Now, our very own Latics might have a player destined for similar heights.
Nick Powell is still only 24, but he’s had quite a career. He was plucked from Crewe Alexandra as a teenager by Sir Alex Ferguson, a man who could spot a talent. The young Powell became a headline for a short while, the £4m teenager about to set the world on fire. Sadly, he fizzled out.
His United spell never took off amidst rumours of an attitude problem and a lack of opportunities. Loan spells with Hull City and Leicester didn’t work out, but a stay at the DW Stadium did.
He scored Wigan’s first ever European goal against MK Maribor in October 2013, adding his second and Wigan’s third later in the game. He even bagged another European strike, this time against Rubin Kazan. In total, he made 41 appearances and scored 12 times.
The Latics had seen the best of the youngster, the world had not.
His path led him back to Wigan in 2016 and although the squad failed to deliver, Powell did not. He was a shining light as relegation loomed and finally sucked Wigan out of the second tier, but Powell stayed put during the inevitable summer of upheaval.
He remained loyal, despite being widely linked with a move away. That rumour hasn’t gone away, but with each passing League One game, he’s added a little more to the price tag.
As a teenager, he set Manchester United back £4m, but following his free transfer move to the DW, he could have earned the Latics a profit no matter what. Wolves had moved for him and we rumoured to be back in the hunt, Aston Villa later expressed a desire to bring him in, too.
His value is still rising though and, as we enter the final knockings of the 201/18 season, he could well yet make a huge step up.
Powell has struck 14 times in 40 outings this season – not a bad return for a player who doesn’t play as a primary striker. With each goal and assist that figure rises and having signed a three-year deal in 2016, he’s going to command a fee wherever he moves.
There’s every chance he could remain a Latic; after all, he has played the best football of his career here.
With Wigan still amongst the favourites to be promoted in most football betting markets, he might yet decide his future lies with a resurgent side on the up. After all, Southampton and Leicester both went on to achieve much more than mere promotion.
However, having been capped by England from U17 right up to U21, he could well feel a top-flight move is in his best interests. If it is, then he’ll spark a mini bidding frenzy, something that could well earn Wigan a huge return on their investment.
Surely, once the Premier League heavyweights join the party, he could command an even higher fee as he did all those years ago at Crewe Alexandra.
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