Factfile | Tom Cleverley
A lot has happened since Tom Cleverley's Player of the Season year with the Hornets in 2009/10.
Having gained promotion from League 1 with Leicester City the previous season, Cleverley's 35 appearances in Watford yellow yielded 11 goals and five assists, with the 19-year-old affirming to Sir Alex Ferguson his potential as a first-team prospect at Manchester United.
A further successful loan spell the next campaign, this time in the Premier League with Wigan Athletic, gave Cleverley the platform to begin his career at Old Trafford in earnest.
His return to United in 2011/12 coincided with the initial retirement of Paul Scholes, and Cleverley was tasked with the near-impossible feat of replacing the Red Devils’ legendary number 18 (Scholes was persuaded to return to United later that season).
Debuting against rivals Manchester City in the Community Shield in 2011, Cleverley went on to make 79 appearances in Manchester, netting five times.
His time at the club included 2012/13 Premier League glory, the last of Sir Alex’s 13 League titles with United before retirement.
It was during this time that England took notice of Cleverley’s progress, and in August 2012 he made his full debut for the Three Lions in a 2-1 friendly win over Italy. He has gone on to earn 13 caps, the last coming in 2013, and also represented team GB at the London Olympics in 2012.
Domestically, it was perhaps at this point that Cleverley’s impact at United began to wane, and after 22 appearances under David Moyes in 2013/2014, he made a loan move to Aston Villa to secure regular football.
It was a fruitful spell. Thirty-seven appearances and three goals in all competitions during 2014/15, including a run to the FA Cup final, sparked a tug-of-war between Villa and Everton which culminated in Cleverley signing a five-year-deal at Goodison Park in July 2015.
He made his Toffees bow against the Hornets on the opening day of last season, and despite a return of two goals and six assists in all competitions, the England man has found playing time harder to come by since Ronald Koeman replaced Roberto Martinez at the club.
Ten appearances before Christmas prompted the 27-year-old to look elsewhere, and Watford have been quick to add the technically gifted midfielder to their ranks.