Football wonderkids who couldn’t make the best out of their talents

Football was one’s termed as a game for players who have experience and the quality was ranked the highest to judge a player, not any more. A generation came and since then we have witnessed the growth of talents, players that developed technical and physical ability at a very young age, and a quality that teams have now started investing in the modern times more than compared to players that have had experience. 

Players nowadays get introduced to the sport at a very early age when they just join school. It’s done to make sure a physical activity daily is added to their routine and also to give them an added advantage of building a career in sports as well. 

Football is also offered as a part of sports options that are given to children alongside many other sports for them to choose from. More commonly in Europe football is regarded as the topmost choice.

Hachim Mastour for AC Milan (RossoneriBlog)

There have been players who become the flag bearers of their parents to continue the tradition of playing football, some famous examples are Xavi Alonso son of Periko Alonso won Laliga with Real Madrid just like his dad. Cesare Maldini father of famous AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini won a lot of Seria A titles and so did his son Paolo. There are many more examples of father-son duos that even play right now.

In the present era, teams have started investing in a lot of youth players with quality, a mentality that has changed over time to develop a team with future scope and perspective. A long-term plan accepted by teams to nourish players in their very own academy. 

Many players like Cristiano Ronaldo,  and Lionel Messi who are now on the verge of retiring, and players like Bukayo Saka, Erling Haaland, etc are examples of those who have excelled since a young age, whereas there are and were players who should have immense talent at an early age but were unable to carry the pressure of becoming the best. 

Here are some examples: 

 1) Hachim Mastour

Undoubtedly the number one spot is taken by a prodigy who by now must have been among the best in the world alongside Players like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. Branded ‘Fantasista ‘right now the player had the world talking about him when he was just 15. The talented teenager was named among the substitutes by Clarence Seedorf who was the coach of AC Milan during the season 2013-2014. A talent who did advertisements alongside Neymar for Redbull to playing for second-tier side Athletic Zemamra in Morocco, the player was never able to fulfill the amount of talent he had due to an introduction of extreme fame he received at a very early age. 

 2) Bojan Krkic

Branded the new Messi, La Masia product Bojan Krkic started his career in the best way possible for Barcelona. Same style, same position, same talent, and coincidently a similar hairstyle too, the player was never known for being Bojan but the next Messi. He played more under Frank Rijkaard who introduced him to the world but when Pep arrived, he wasn’t given enough chances with his relationship with the manager became strained. He then had a clash with the Spanish national team for not participating in the 2008 European football championship for which he received criticism. AC Milan, Stoke City, Roma, Ajax, Mainz, Montreal Impact, Alaves, and Vissel Kobe, a career that would have been delightful to remorseful.

3) Freddy Adu 

14 was the age of Freddy Adu when he signed his first contract for DC United. A talent born in Ghana who represented the USA was considered the next big thing in the era of American soccer who needed flag bearers to stars like Clint Dempsey. A curious case of ‘overhyped wonderkid ‘he never made it to the big stage even after being given a lot of chances. After many years in America, four years in Europe, and then again in America, an abundance of talent faded away with a lot of expectations as well.

4) Giovani Dos Santos 

An unlikely Mexico squad won the under-17 World Cup in 2007, among them was Barcelona talent Giovani dos Santos. A hyped-up teenager was given a chance to perform under Frank Rijkaard but with limited time, so he left for English side Tottenham. The English nightlife affected his behavior which made Spurs punish him and he was sent out on loan. With performances downgrading, a lifeline came in the form of Villarreal where he showcased what Tottenham missed. Playing alongside brother Jonathan he later earned a big money move to LA Galaxy but with time his performances again started fading. Heading to his home country with stints for Tigres and Monterrey he currently has no club associated with him.

5) Federico Macheda

A player worth remembering at Old Trafford, his goal against Aston Villa made the Red Devils win the premier league in season 2008-09. A talent with high hopes gradually declined after given enough opportunities at United was sent out on loan to Sampdoria, QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster, Birmingham and further released. Cardiff City with a familiar coach didn’t help, Nottingham Forest was again in an underwhelming spell with him returning to Italy with Novara, but still no good to him. Panathinaikos had him show some glimpses but not for long, at only 32 who would have thought his career would take such a downgrading turn?

6) Adnan Januzaj 

In a season where United finished below the top four for the first time in their history, Adnan Januzaj happened to be the best thing that happened to the Red Devils. A talent bought from Belgian side Anderlecht was given the platform by David Moyes. A brilliant start to his career earning comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo, the silky feet had the world talking about him. A new manager and a new favorite signing with a change of tactics resulted in him leaving for Dortmund where he couldn’t impress. Coming back, he again couldn’t do well which led to his permanent departure to Real Sociedad. A good series of games with a shooter market value he then was signed by Sevilla for free. No good to him, he left for Turkey and returned, since then he has made only one appearance.

7) Alexandre Pato

AC Milan had got the face of their badge after the departure of Kaka and retired Paolo Maldini in the baby-faced Brazilian. A hit in Brazil, Pato had shown his talent in Italy with sublime performances for the red and blacks. But with immense pressure and workload came injuries that had plagued his field time. With performances declining he left for his home country where he had a disastrous time. He left for loan stints in Brazil and Chelsea in England but couldn’t do well. 

A transfer to Villarreal proved to be right for him as he took the world again by storm just like his days at AC Milan. He left for China for irresistible wages where he did not have the best of the times. Orlando city and back to his home country, the 34-year-old plays for São Paolo at present. 

8) Ravel Morrison

Discipline, behavior, and attitude are something that a young footballer is always asked to maintain. Ok no one who doesn’t, can ever excel in this game. So did Ravel Morison, a talent that was regarded upwards when compared to compatriots Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard by Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand. Legendary manager Sir Alex was vocal about his talent as well about how casually he used to carry the ball in between first-team players being just a teenager. At just 30 he has had stints with 13 clubs and is currently with DC United which is his 14th. 

 9) Jack Wilshere 

One of the greatest talents ever produced by the Arsenal academy was midfielder Jack Wilshere. At just 16 he made his debut for the Gunners with a bid to end his career as a legend for his home club. A career blighted by injuries that player when fit showed what he is capable of in terms of technique, linkup play, versatility among various positions, and a lot more but only when he is fit. He moved to West Ham and Bournemouth at later stages of his career but had to retire at the age of just 30. He currently manages the Arsenal under-18 side.

10) Emre More

A talent that rose from the rank of Denmark but had roots in Turkey, made his competitive debut at the age of just 16. With some good performances, he came into the eye of talent producer/enhancer Borussia Dortmund. Glimpses of talent weren’t enough for the prodigy so he left for Celta Vigo, with behavioral issues associated with him since childhood, the player never became the best version of himself due to him being unsettled by bad behavior. Now at Fenerbahce, he has a point to prove if he wants to stay at a single club for long.

Cover Credits: ESPNofficial

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