Newcastle United: Andy Carroll - Does a return to former clubs work?
Newcastle United's pursuit of their former striker Andy Carroll still seems to be on-going but no-one really knows what the player himself thinks of the idea. The record shows that players going back to the scenes of former glories have a mixed experience.
So much changes at a club in just a couple of seasons that generally players don't hit the same heights - but that doesn't mean it can't be a useful decision for all parties. Carroll's case would be very unusual as he left as a player in development and would return in much the same situation.
Once upon a time there was a well-beaten path taken by Scottish footballers to the English First Division. From the 1960s to the late 1980s very few capped Scottish footballers stayed north of the border, especially forwards and midfielders.
It followed that a fair proportion of these Anglo-Scots went back to Scottish football towards the end of their careers, or if they didn't settle down south. Charlie Nicholas ripped things up for Celtic between 1980 and 1983 as a prodigious talent and scored at a goal every other game. When he went south he had offers from Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.
He chose Arsenal and in the goldfish bowl of London his lifestyle came under scrutiny as he struggled to make the same impact on the pitch. 'Champagne Charlie' didn't play badly for Arsenal but he never quite lived up to the huge expectation put on him.
In 1987 he joined Aberdeen and showed much of his old talent. Inevitably the call came from Celtic in 1990 but with mixed results. His first season was mediocre but then he hit his stride again with 21 goals in a season. But he fell back again in competition with Frank McAvennie (himself a returner to Parkhead) at a time when Celtic were under fierce pressure from a Rangers resurgence.
From 1980 to 1987 Ian Rush banged in a stunning 139 goals in 225 games for Liverpool - an amazing return at the highest level. He then departed for an unhappy season in Serie A with Juventus before returning to Anfield.
His second spell at Anfield delivered a none too shabby 90 goals in 245 games. His effectiveness suffered in his second spell but only in relation to his amazing standards in his first coming. The Welshman remained a superb asset to the club. Much else had changed at Anfield too.
In the early 80s Liverpool were so dominant in a system designed to hit teams on the counter-attack and use the peerless skills of Kenny Dalglish and Rush. In later years the team was even more brillant as an attacking unit, so goals were more equally shared out with the likes of Aldridge, Beardsley, Barnes and midfielders.
When the speedy winger left for Chelsea in 2005 there were many people (me included) screaming don't go. He went from main man at Man City to bench warmer at star-studded Chelsea. But the blame didn't lie with the player or his advisers - step forward Sven-Goran Eriksson.
At the time the England boss was selecting starting elevens for competitive games exclusively from Champions League teams, which left Wright-Phillips no choice. Arsenal could have been a better fit but the name Wright already resounded at Highbury and its understandable that the player chose a different option.
The winger returned to City in 2008 and while he was warmly welcomed some of the zip and confidence had gone from his play. When the great revolution started at the club he found himself submerged by the incoming talent and moved on to QPR in 2011.
Unless the return happens quickly as in the Rush case, players aren't going to recapture past glories. But with realism and common sense on both sides, the reappearnce of a famous name can be positive for vall concerned.
Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger got it right earlier this year. There was no question of a long-term deal but Wenger got a seasoned striker for a couple of months and Henry sniffed the big time again and banged in a few goals to boot- smiles all round.
The Welshman had had a career that has seen him move around a lot of clubs quickly. In some quarters Bellamy is seen as trouble but the fans have always tended to appreciate his unstinting effort, if not his personality.
When he returned to Liverpool last season it was generally felt that he's been moved on too early and in a troubled season at Anfield he used his experience to good effect.
His game has matured over time. Originally based around blistering pace he's turned into more of a provider from out wide and Reds fans are glad to have him back in his new incarnation.
Not strictly a return to a former club as an island. The peerless Italian is a proud native of Sardinia but felt forced to move to pursue his career, as Sardinian clubs such as his Nuorese outfit were relative minnows in the early days of his career. However, during his career at the likes of Chelsea and Napoli he promised that he would end it on his home island.
True to form his last move from Chelsea was to the top Sardinian side Cagliari - just at the time Roman Abramovich acquired the Blues. Zola reputedly received a major offer from the Russian owner to remain with Chelsea but Zola stayed true to his word and then helped Cagliari get promotion back to Serie A. A class act on and off the park and rightly a legend at home.
So if Liverpool can offload Carroll back to Newcastle, what bracket do you think the strapping centre forward would fall into? Whatever your views we'd love to hear from you.