When a player comes through a big club and is immediately labelled as ‘the next …’, you know something is going to go wrong eventually, and it kind of did for Dan Crowley.
Dubbed ‘the next Jack Wilshere’ before even moving to Arsenal, Crowley was seen as a highly promising midfielder at Aston Villa where he made a name for himself early on his career, namely making his U-16 debut at just 12-years-old and starring in the NextGen Series tournament at 15.
Crowley’s potential was clear early, which prompted Arsenal to go in for the Coventry-born playmaker, and it wasn’t long before the midfielder was making a name for himself in north London, starring for both the U-18s and U-21s in his first two years with the Gunners.
After making an impression for the first-team on pre-season in the summer of 2015, Crowley was set out on loan to Barnsley for the season, the first of three loan-spells at Arsenal, but his time with the Tykes was cut short despite impressing for the League One side and then manager Lee Johnson claiming the midfielder was the most talented 18-year-old he had ever seen.
His abrupt return to Arsenal led many to suspect Crowley was set to feature for the first-team, but that was not the case as the midfielder returned to playing for U-21 side in Premier League 2.
A second loan-spell in the English lower divisions in the 2016/17 season, this time with Oxford United, was again cut short, this time due to unconfirmed reports of a falling out between the player and the coaching staff.
His bad boy image made him an undesirable target for teams looking for a creative midfielder, forcing Crowley to have to look for opportunities abroad for first-team football, and the Netherlands came calling.
Crowley joined Eredivisie side Go Ahead Eagles on a six-month loan-move where he yet again impressed, making 16 appearances for the Deventer-based club as they were unfortunately relegated down to the Eerste Divisie, but the English midfielder had done enough to win suitors, and in the summer of 2017 the then 19-year-old made a permanent move to Willem II.
The playmaker might not have made it Arsenal, but two years on from his move away from north London Crowley has finally found his feet somewhere.
This season the 21-year-old midfielder has scored five and assisted seven as Willem sit one point away from the Europa League play-offs in the league and are preparing for their first KNVB Cup final in nearly 15 years.
Crowley is a player who still has the potential to become a Premier League player and could realistically return to England in the future, but with Willem the midfielder has found a new home and fans who adore him, and the once dubbed ‘next Jack Wilshere’ could make history for the club if he can lead them to glory in their upcoming final.
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