It has only been a matter of months, but Jarrod Bowen might have already proven the doubters at Newcastle United wrong.
The prolific Hull City forward was one of the most coveted players this January with his deal with the Tigers running down. Bowen had already netted 16 times for a struggling side, and was the subject of a transfer tug of war between West Ham and Crystal Palace on deadline day.
Magpies head coach Steve Bruce is a long-term admirer of the 23-year-old, and signed him from Hereford in 2014 during his spell in the dugout of the KCOM Stadium.
United were strongly linked with a deal for Bowen in the build-up to the January window, but instead stood aside as the winger sealed a late deal with the Hammers.
As ChronicleLive previously reported, club insiders did not believe Bowen offered an immediate improvement on the likes of Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin. At this stage, 50% of United's goals had come from defenders.
The Magpies also baulked at the £20m-plus pricetag for a player who did not have long to run on his contract, and was unproven in the top-flight.
West Ham clearly did not share these concerns. David Moyes was hesitant to chuck Bowen in from the outset, but by the end of the campaign the "exceptional" winger had become a key figure in their relegation fight.
An impressive display at Old Trafford in the Hammers' penultimate match of the season was one of several which drew praise from his manager.
Moyes told Football.London: "He was a threat every time he got the ball, we are just waiting for the goals to come with his play because he has been very good for us.
"I have to say, I thought he was exceptional today."
Bowen netted on his home debut against Southampton in February, and finished the campaign with four assists.
The recent form of Almiron and Saint-Maximin will likely mean some United fans will already have forgotten about the interest in the former Hull winger.
But digging beyond the stats, the 23-year-old has already done enough in his 13 appearances so far to convince Sam Inkersole, the West Ham correspondent for Football.London, that the reported £20m-plus deal could be prove to be a "bargain".
Inkersole said: "Bowen is already a fan favourite in east London. He took to the Premier League like a duck to water in his first six months, and I am sure he will get better and better and better over the coming seasons."
"It was a big sum of money but Bowen had been linked with some big teams so to get a deal done was an excellent bit of business that didn’t break the bank too much at the time. If anything, it looks like a bit of a bargain.
United appear to be transitioning to a 4-2-3-1 formation under Bruce in a bid to step away from the defensive approach which served his predecessor so well.
Given this switch, the signing of Bowen would have complemented Almiron and Saint-Maximin rather than being a case of two from three.
Describing his right-wing role at West Ham so far, Inkersole explained: "Bowen has impressed with his work rate, his set-piece delivery has been spot on as has his crossing from open play. He has certainly deserved to get a few more goals to show for his efforts so far.
"He got through a lot of miles with his defensive work, and his ability to dribble the ball out of a defensive position to help alleviate pressure was an enormous plus.
"There is a common school of thought that if he had been at the club all season as opposed to just six months then the Hammers relegation battle might not have happened."
The difference between a fight for survival and pushing for mid-table mediocrity and beyond is squad depth. United's reliance on Saint-Maximin this campaign illustrates this point.
So even if Bowen was brought in to compete with Almiron and Saint-Maximin, why was this viewed as a negative? The Ashley era on Tyneside has ignored squad depth, leaving a succession of managers to neglect cup competitions to preserve the Magpies' Premier League status.
United's squad was ravaged by injuries following the restart, with Saint-Maximin among those affected. Yet despite this crisis and the demands of two fixtures per week, Christian Atsu and Yoshinori Muto both featured just once in the final 10 games.
Valentino Lazaro was another attacker who enjoyed limited game-time following the restart, and Bruce evidently does not believe United have enough in reserve to rotate.
The head coach has stressed the need for the Magpies to kick on next season, and insisted another 13th-placed finish is not good enough. To do this, the club clearly need to strengthen to avoid an over-reliance on players such as Saint-Maximin.
If Bowen continues his impressive form at the London Stadium next season, United's hierarchy might just begin to rue their January decision.