Kemy Agustien heads back to his first English club today with his Albion career at a crossroads.
The enigmatic Dutch midfielder has the rest of the season to show he is worth keeping or end up another wasted talent.
Agustien first kicked a ball in this country for Birmingham, the Seagulls’ opening away opponents in the Championship.
That was six years ago. It took him until Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup win against Cheltenham at the Amex to record his 50th start in England, including spells also for Swansea and Crystal Palace.
Four clubs in the top two divisions saw enough to think he was worth taking on but he has yet to establish himself and fully exploit his ability.
Time is running out for Agustien to make his mark.
He will be 28 next Wednesday. He should be in his prime but Sami Hyypia may become the latest manager whose patience wears thin.
Agustien has been involved throughout pre-season and in the first two games of the season proper since Hyypia took charge.
He produced, by his own admission on Twitter, “the worst game in my career” in Albion’s penultimate warm-up match at Peterborough.
Hyypia’s squad is not exactly bursting at the seams at present and Agustien was on the bench for last Saturday’s first fixture at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
He replaced Jake Forster-Caskey for the final half-hour but failed to make a telling difference as Albion slipped to a 1-0 defeat.
Hyypia handed him a more obvious chance to shine in the starting line-up against Cheltenham.
Agustien, deployed as the most advanced midfielder behind Chris O’Grady and Craig Mackail-Smith, fluffed his lines.
He spurned a good opportunity to ease the anxiety around the Amex by scoring his first goal in England soon after the restart.
He was replaced midway through the second half by Kazenga LuaLua, who made the kind of impact Hyypia must have been hoping for from Agustien.
LuaLua won and took the corner which led to Lewis Dunk’s breakthrough 11 minutes from time and supplied the pass for Mackail-Smith to round off Albion’s safe passage in the closing moments.
Agustien is clearly capable of delivering far more than he has in his first year with Albion.
He represented the Netherlands, a nation renowned for a healthy production line of technically accomplished players, at under-20 and under-21 level.
It was around that time that Agustien joined Birmingham from AZ Alkmaar on a season-loan loan, with an option for the move to become permanent for a fee of £2 million euros.
He played 20 games for tomorrow’s hosts but was plagued by injuries. Alex McLeish, Birmingham’s manager at the time, “couldn’t commit to bringing him in for the money asked”.
Agustien later said: “I was 21-years-old. To come from Holland straight into the Championship to a team that wanted to go for promotion was a very big step.
“People really miscalculated that. Everything was so quick and more physical. That year I had two operations on my groin and it didn’t really work out but I said I was always going to come back and I was very lucky to have the chance again with Swansea.”
During his time at Swansea, which included a loan stint with Palace, Agustien helped them to promotion under Brendan Rodgers. He was deemed by the current Liverpool boss, in spite of further injury problems, to be worthy of another two-year deal.
He starred against Sir Alex Ferguson’s title-winning Manchester United after Michael Laudrup took charge but played only a bit-part role under the Dane before Albion signed him last summer.
Oscar Garcia, days into his reign and short of central midfielders in a depleted squad, sanctioned the acquisition of Agustien.
He was a peripheral figure under the Spaniard amid constant concerns about his fitness. Nathan Jones, Oscar’s assistant, remarked in March, that he “needs to contribute every single day”.
With Paddy McCourt, another gifted maverick, on trial with Albion, the need for Agustien to contribute every single day has never been greater.
Otherwise the co-owner of chavelylifestyle, a Miami-based fashion agency, may find himself with more time to fill on the beaches of Florida than the playing fields of England.