With the season over and all talk turning to transfers, we thought now would be a good time to take a break from the rumours and reflect on players who were destined for greatness a decade ago, in order to see whether they fulfilled their potential.
So we found a list, made by the World Soccer magazine in 2007, which set out who were the ’50 Most Exciting Teenagers on the Planet’, and therefore had the most potential to go on and achieve big things. We will show you the top 5 and fill you in as to where they are now.
The Ghanian striker started his senior career promisingly at Ashanti Gold in his home country, scoring nine goals in 19 appearances. This lead to him signing a pre-contract with Atlético Madrid allowing him to train with the club, as he was still under-18 and a full transfer was not permitted. Unfortunately for Sadick, he did not live up to the hype and a year later the Spanish club sold him to FK Vojvodina, and so began his early decline. His career has so far consisted of short stints for Ghanian, Turkish and Saudi Arabian clubs with little to no consistent success, and Adams now plays Asante Kotoko S.C, in the Ghanian Premier League.
The half-Moroccan, half-Dutch midfielder joined PSV Eindhoven at the age of 12 before getting his professional contract five years later. Aged sixteen, he sparked the interest of Barcelona, but rejected their move for him. He then went on to become the youngest Dutch player ever to play in the Champions League, aged seventeen. Everything was going well until he picked up a few injuries, which meant his playing time decreased significantly in the following season. Once match fit, he found that he had lost his place in the line up and this meant that he had to go out on loan to FC Twente. After this loan spell, Ajax bought him on a permanent basis. However, once again, Aissati suffered another injury and then faced further criticism from Martin Jol for being “too weak”. Consequently, Ismail lost his ‘promising young talent’ label and the attention surrounding him faded. The midfielder now plays for Alanyaspor in the Turkish league.
So far, the list’s predictions haven’t exactly been spot on… However, here is a player that you will have heard of. Alexandre Pato first came onto the footballing scene aged 16, for Internacional, where he took part in under-20 competitions with players four years older than him but still came out as top goal-scorer. He made his full club debut later that year, scoring within the first minute of the match, with another two assists by full-time. Pato took part in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup and broke the record as the youngest player ever to score in a FIFA-organised competition that belonged to none other than Pelé. Alexandre also helped Internacional win the Recopa Sudamericana for the first time in their history. It is safe to say that the big clubs were paying attention to the Brazilian youngster and Milan snapped him up in 2007. At Milan, Pato continued his good form, winning Serie A Young Footballer of the Year in 2009. However, from 2011 onwards his career became littered with injuries and this had a significant impact on his ability to play consistent football at a high level. In 2013, Corinthians saw the opportunity to take a risk on the injury-prone, but clearly talented, Brazilian, and signed him for £12 million. Pato’s career wasn’t the same again, he never returned to the impressive form he demonstrated as a teenager, not even in his loan spell for Chelsea. Pato has failed to settle anywhere in recent years and is now playing for Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian F.C.
The second Brazilian on the list, Anderson began his career at Grêmio, and even scored on his debut, however, he couldn’t stop them from being relegated that season. Nevertheless, Anderson remained at the club for another season and scored a memorable goal which sent Grêmio straight back into Serie A against Náutico, whilst four men down and sixteen minutes into injury time. Aged 17, the midfielder joined FC Porto and had a solid season, despite breaking his leg. In 2007, Anderson was signed by Manchester United and went on to win the Premier League 4 times, the League Cup twice and the Champions League once. Although many would argue that he was not a stand out player, and is certainly not the first person you think of when you remember Manchester United’s recent successes, he undoubtedly did a solid job for United when called upon. Since leaving the Reds, Anderson joined Internacional, but is currently on loan to Brazilian club Coritiba.
Giovani dos Santos
Giovani joined Barcelona’s academy aged eleven and spent many years representing their youth teams. In 2006, he was called up to the senior team for the pre-season tour and found the net on his debut, earning him a spot in the squad for the FIFA Club World Cup. In 2007, he made his official first team start along with his Champions League debut later that year. His good form continued but he failed to hold a regular place in the team, so signed for Tottenham in 2008. Giovani failed to hit the ground running at Spurs and had his commitment questioned by the manager. As a result, he had loan spells at Ipswich, Galatasaray and Racing Santander. Since then, dos Santos has been sold to Mallorca, then Villareal, before ending up at LA Galaxy. It has only been recently, at the MLS club, that the Mexican has regained his good form, scoring on his MLS debut and making the 2016 MLS All-Star squad.
From this small sample it may seem as if the list was way off in its predictions, and that may be the case to some degree, but it certainly got some right. Here are numbers 6-8:
6. Gareth Bale
7. Sergio Agüero
8. Bojan Krkic
Also on the list were; Angel Di Maria (11th), Karim Benzema (15th), Toni Kroos (27th), Juan Mata (28th) and Mesut Ozil (37th). But on a list that long you’re bound to get some right!
Read the full list here: http://sportslens.com/top-50-most-exciting-teen-footballers-2007/4258/
Let us know what you think of the list and who you would include in a current ‘50 Most Exciting Teenagers on the Planet’!