Roberto Martinez believes there are comparisons to be made in the positive impact loan spells at less glamorous Premier League destinations will have on the careers of Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere.
The precocious pair could go head to head at the DW Stadium tonight, when Wigan entertain an Arsenal side buoyed by their magnificent win over Chelsea on Monday. It promises to be an intriguing tussle, as well as a glimpse into what might be for Manchester United when Cleverley does return to Old Trafford.
For, just as 18-year-old Wilshere improved markedly as a direct result of spending the second half of last term at Bolton, so Martinez can see 21-year-old Cleverley developing just as quickly thanks to his spell at Wigan. "I cannot see a reason for that not to happen," said the Wigan manager yesterday. "Tom is playing well and improving all the time. He will go as high in the game as he wants. I have no doubts about that. He can be a massive player for Manchester United. When your attitude and personality are right, it allows your football talent to shine."
Martinez's recent revelation that United inserted a break clause in the loan agreement for Cleverley that could be activated when the transfer window opens has placed a question mark over the England Under-21 star's short-term future.
But there appears no obvious reason why the midfielder should be required by Sir Alex Ferguson during the final tense months of the season, particularly as he is getting regular games with Wigan, something Martinez views as an essential part of his development. "Young players need to play games," he said. "That was the reason for the loan in the first place and why we worked extremely hard to get him. I am sure Manchester United will be delighted with what he has done here."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies