THIS time last year Morgan Rogers faced an uncertain future.

Out of the picture at Manchester City and on the back of an indifferent loan spell at Blackpool, Rogers looked a long way from realising the potential that had made him one of the most in-demand youngsters in the country when he was turning heads as a schoolboy at West Brom.

Then Middlesbrough "took a punt". But even in the early stages of what proved to be a short stint at the Riverside, there were very few signs of what was around the corner for the gifted 21-year-old.

It's easy to forget now but after starting the first five league games of the season for Boro, Rogers would have to wait until the last weekend of November until he was again named in a Michael Carrick starting XI for a Championship fixture.

Perhaps, then, the forward, who spent the second half of the season shining at the top end of the Premier League with Aston Villa, will reflect on Boro's Carabao Cup journey last term as his springboard in what now has the makings of being a hugely exciting and successful career.

Rogers scored four goals and created three more in Boro's journey to the League Cup semi-finals and by the time the last four second leg clash at Chelsea came around, the forward's exit felt inevitable. His consolation goal at Stamford Bridge proved to be his Boro goodbye.

Now, six months on, Kieran Scott, head of football at the Riverside, has told how Boro did all they keep to keep Rogers on Teesside but in the end had to accept defeat - but only after striking a deal that pleased the club hierarchy.


The deal eventually agreed was £8m up-front, potentially rising to between £15m and £16m in add-ons. Boro's coffers have already been boosted after one of those add-ons was triggered by Aston Villa's Champions League qualification.

"It was a really difficult one," said Scott, reflecting on Villa's surprise pursuit of Rogers and Boro's efforts to keep the forward.

"Morgan had made a big move to Man City when he was young and had aspirations to play there but it didn't work out. He ended up being a bit in between and we were the ones who took a punt and invested in him full time.

"He came in and you could see flashes of what he could be. He had some games where he was indifferent and then games when he was top class. That's what you get with young players. We played Aston Villa in the FA Cup and they witnessed him during a little golden patch where he was starting to put it together.

"They've obviously done their work preparing for us, saw him, liked him. I think Aston Villa were top of the league at that time and when a big club like that comes to the table, it was really difficult to bat it away. We tried. We didn't roll over. But in the end money talks, the boy is an Aston Villa fan, there's the salary that comes with it.

"It became difficult to stop him. As much as I think Morgan wanted to stay, he couldn't turn that away."

As surprising as Villa's initial pursuit of Rogers was the fact the forward so quickly established himself in Unai Emery's team.

And while Boro would obviously prefer for Rogers to be dazzling at the Riverside, he's very much a recruitment success story. Picked up for pennies and sold for a huge profit, Rogers not only strengthened Boro's hand financially but enhanced the club and Michael Carrick's reputation when it comes to the development of young players - which will undoubtedly help their case in this summer's window.