Premier League - Manchester City pay off Johnson

Manchester City have paid off a player who was once one of their brightest young stars after he became bloated and unfit.

England U21 star Michael Johnson accepted a severance package from his £40,000-a-week contract just before Christmas having not played for City for over three years.

The 24-year-old - who once attracted a £10m bid from Liverpool, and who was tipped to become one of the best midfielders in the country - had signed a five-year contract worth £2 million a year in 2009, and was still 18 months away from the end of that deal.

It seemed a good piece of business at the time for City, but a combination of injury problems and his reported love of nights out on the town caused his career to stall. Johnson had not appeared for City's first team since a League Cup match against Scunthorpe in October 2009 - a match in which he actually scored five minutes after being subbed on.

City manager Roberto Mancini came to the conclusion that he did not have the right personality for professional football, and sent him out on a season-long loan to Leicester City (managed by former City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson) in 2011. But the temporary move proved ill-fated as he was sent back to City injured half-way through the year having appeared just nine times.

City had planned to keep the news of his termination under wraps, but confirmed that they had paid him off after a picture of Johnson emerged on Twitter looking more like a professional wrestler than a professional footballer.

He was convicted of two drink-driving offences last year, one of which involved him crashing his car in Manchester last May.