Once upon a time at Sunderland, Chris Maguire was regularly one of the first names on the team sheet at the Stadium of Light.
The experienced forward player was arguably in some of the best form of his career during the earlier years of his stint with the Black Cats and racked up an impressive nine goals and seven assists during his first term in the North East.
Then in the season following that he registered 11 goals and 12 assists, which was some return for a player who has spent most of his Sunderland career out wide as opposed to being an out and out striker.
Moving into the 2020/21 campaign and the story of Maguire’s exploits for the League One side couldn’t be more different.
In and out of the starting eleven under first Phil Parkinson and now Lee Johnson, the 32-year-old has struggled to rediscover the type of form that showcased him as one of the most potent offensive threats in the division and currently finds himself out of favour.
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With just 11 league starts to his name out of 25 appearances across all competitions, the veteran’s long-term future with the Black Cats appears to be in a great deal of doubt.
The emergence of Jack Diamond and the consistency of Aiden McGeady has seen Maguire’s pathway to getting more starts become blocked at an age when he would be longing to play regularly.
Signing Aiden O’Brien during the summer also showed that Sunderland are perhaps preparing for life without their once talismanic forward, whose contract is set to expire in the summer of this year.
A deal running down is something that is a big issue in most player’s careers and the Scotsman will no doubt be keen to weigh up his options come the next transfer window if Johnson does indeed inform him that he is surplus to requirements.
Maguire faces a choice – stay at Sunderland and be a bit part player or pursue one last pay day to finish your career with a flourish before hanging up your boots.
The choice really is that simple and it will be intriguing to see what route the talented attacker goes down.