Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, and indeed it’s easy to look back now and say that former West Ham United defender Sam Byram made a mistake joining the club in 2016.
The 25-year-old was a highly touted prospect when he made the move to east London from Leeds United, but after his departure to Norwich City was confirmed on Tuesday, it’s difficult to argue it wasn’t an error of judgement.
Former England international Danny Mills certainly agrees with that sentiment, telling Football Insider on Tuesday: “I think he moved too early. I think he wasn’t quite ready to step into a Premier League first team and then his career went backwards a bit.”
Again, it’s easy to say this now, but there is always the danger that young players will see their careers stall by making the step up to the top flight too soon.
For every Dele Alli, plucked from Football League obscurity with Milton Keynes Dons and now an international star with Tottenham Hotspur, you’re going to get a Byram, someone who can’t quite put the pieces together at the highest level.
Injuries have played a part, of course. As per Transfermarkt, the Englishman made just 36 appearances over his four seasons with the Hammers, although the last campaign was spent on loan at Championship side Nottingham Forest. So when you divide that amount by the three seasons when he was wearing a claret and blue shirt, the player featured just 12 times a season for West Ham.
When you look at it like that, it’s impossible to say that Byram didn’t err when he swapped Yorkshire for London. His time at the London Stadium simply hasn’t gone how anyone expected, and Mills is spot on when he says his career has gone backwards in a major way.