With all of the top-notch expertise, training facilities and – not just financial – incentives in the game, pros have it better than ever these days.
The best teams have scouting networks that reach every corner of the globe, in order to unearth young gems before they become multi-million dollar men. It’s one of the ways smaller clubs stay competitive against their mightier, richer rivals. Sometimes, it’s also a way for smaller clubs to sell you a dud and make a quick buck.
Plucked from their first coach’s womb in their most tender years, the average professional footballer may train anything up to 10,000 hours before acquiring that status. If you’ve got the talent, though, you’ll probably have major clubs swooning at your feet months before that.
Martin Odegaard, Alen Halilovic and even Romelu Lukaku are just some of the young superstars who burst very aggressively onto the global scene, to the tune of hundreds of adoring phone calls from top clubs across the planet. There are many others, but very few who actually took it anywhere beyond that childhood glamour.
Today, we’ll take a look at some of football’s most highly-rated youngsters who wound up as terrible purchases – for one or all of their clubs!
1) Giovani Dos Santos
Giovani Dos Santos was one of the most exciting names to come out of Mexican football in years.
A key playmaker and supporting striker for Mexico’s triumphant U-17 World Champions (2005), he assisted half of his nation’s goals in the tournament. He won the Silver Boot for it, to go with his Bronze Boot in the U-20 version two years later. He was also a part of their victorious 2012 Olympics squad, although injury ruled him out of the final.
A graduate of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy since he was 11, his progress there was exemplary. By August 2007, the 18-year old forward was deemed ready to make his competitive debut for the Catalan giants.
On the last day of the 07/08 season, he scored a hat-trick against Real Murcia. It took his season’s tally to a mere 4 goals in 28 appearances. That was enough to earn the disappointing talent a move away to Tottenham Hotspur.
There, it only took him 12 games to earn another move; a loan to Championship side Ipswich in January, where he once again only managed 4 goals, albeit in 8 appearances. The following year, he was farmed out to Galatasaray, where he managed a grand total of 0 goals in 14 games. By 2012, he would leave Tottenham having spent 3 years on loan and having never scored for them.
After comparatively decent spells at Mallorca and Villareal, he signed for LA Galaxy last year. He’s still only 26 though, and will fancy making an impact there after a very difficult club career. Harry Redknapp probably wouldn’t bet on it though, saying in 2010, “If he could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball, he would be all right.”