Can troubled Ravel Morrison rebuild his career with Lazio?
Former Man United trainee cleared of assault charges, but will be cut adrift by West Ham
Former Manchester United prodigy Ravel Morrison could attempt to rebuild his career in Italy after three assault charges against him were dropped on Thursday, leaving him available to sign for Lazio at the end of the season.
The troubled 21-year-old midfielder, who has always seemed destined for a long stretch either in the England team or behind bars, had been due to stand trial at Manchester Crown Court this month accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and her mother in July last year.
Those charges have now been dropped because of a lack of evidence, and he was found not guilty at a hearing on Thursday. Previous allegations that he threatened to throw acid in his former partner's face and have her killed were also withdrawn.
However, the CPS are not the only people who are no longer interested in Morrison. His current club, West Ham, "want to get him off the wage bill immediately", reports the Daily Telegraph.
He is currently embroiled in a pay dispute with the Hammers after he was repeatedly fined by the club.
"West Ham have looked into terminating the player's contract this month if no club is willing to sign him and take on his salary," says the paper. "Disciplinary issues have dogged Morrison through his early career and he is not wanted by West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, but the youngster is now understood to be determined to make a new start."
West Ham are not the first club to run out of patience with the Mancunian, hailed by Alex Ferguson as one of the best young talents he had ever seen.
Chronicling his up-and-down career in the Daily Mail, Mike Keegan writes: "With electrifying feet, surging pace and an eye for the outrageous, Ravel Morrison had it all... [but] from early on his behaviour away from the pitch, however, was rumoured to be as colourful as his performances on it."
He recounts how Morrison was caught up in a drugs and gun bust at the age of 16, cautioned for assaulting his mother, picked up a fine for throwing his girlfriend's phone out of a window and narrowly avoided jail for witness intimidation.
In 2011 Alex Ferguson decided he had had enough and sold the player to West Ham for £650,000 on the basis that he needed to make a fresh start away from Manchester.
However, he was sent out on loan to Birmingham, QPR and Cardiff, where he showed only flashes of his ability, and despite the odd cameo for the Hammers and four England Under-21 appearances there were more disciplinary problems, which culminated in his arrest in the summer.
But a move to Italy is now on the cards. "Lazio are ready to take a chance on the former Manchester United trainee and the hope is that going to Italy and getting a change of scenery will get him focused," reports the Daily Mirror, which notes that he would be following in the footsteps of another troubled English star, Paul Gascoigne.
The Mail explains that he will not be able to play for Lazio this season as he has already played for teams in England and Wales this season and cannot represent a side in a third country. It also wonders whether this latest fresh start for Morrison will work.
"A renaissance in Rome? Not many in Manchester, London, Birmingham or Cardiff would bet on it," says Mike Keegan.