Football is filled with tales of talented youngsters attracting a lot of attention and subsequently failing to live up to their potential. While some troubles could be associated with the inabilities of the players to keep their heads on their shoulders and succumbing to the pressure, some youngsters fail to improve technically with age and are found out sooner or later.
One particular player whose career graph is currently troubling a lot of us is young Bournemouth winger Jordon Ibe. The former Liverpool man has now gone from being the future of English football to yet another youngster trying to rebuild his reputation amongst the footballing fraternity.
And if his performances over the last few seasons are any indication, Ibe could be slipping into footballing obscurity.
Ibe was touted to be the future of English football even during his time at Wycombe Wanderers
Ibe made the headlines at a young age of 15, when he made his senior debut for Wycombe Wanderers in 2011. A powerful player who loves to take his man on and beat him with pace, he immediately caught the eye of scouts across England with his pace, acceleration and dribbling ability.
After being linked with a number of teams across England, the youngster finally decided to join Liverpool for an undisclosed fee in December 2011. The move was expected to bring one of the most exciting talents in England to the Merseyside.
However, 5 years since, Ibe could be deemed as one of the most disappointing transfers made by the club in recent times, especially with the hype surrounding his abilities.
Touted to be a better player than Raheem Sterling during his early days at Liverpool by many critics, Ibe impressed sporadically while featuring for the youth side of the club and was constantly in the picture for first team football. However, he found playing time hard to come by and spent short loan spells with Birmingham and Derby County in a bid to gain first team footballing experience.
He made his senior Liverpool debut in the final match of the 2012-13 season against Queens Park Ranger and provided an assist for Philippe Coutinho. However, the effort did not yield the right results and Ibe was largely restricted to youth level football in the subsequent season and made just 2 appearances as Liverpool mounted a serious title challenge.
His Liverpool journey was nothing sort of disappointing
After making 14 appearances in the 2014-15 season, Ibe finally established himself as a first-teamer with 41 appearances in the 2015-16 season. While he did find the back of the net on 4 occasions, his time at the club can largely be summed up as a frustrating one as he was guilty of not being in sync with his teammates and complicating simple situations which disrupted the side’s rhythm.
The strengths of the player are his pace and industriousness and yet, these in certain ways have become hindrances in the development of the youngster. While he beats his man more often than not (given a take on completion of 63% in 2015-16) on the wings, it’s his inability to produce something meaningful from these advanced positions that have resulted in the player developing a reputation of being wasteful.
He does not make intelligent passes in the final third, his crossing is incredibly poor and his decision making has been labelled atrocious on a number of occasions.
The move to Bournemouth might make or break his career
When Bournemouth decided to pay a whopping £15 Million for the youngster, Liverpool were more than happy to part ways with him, reportedly adding further financial misery on the Cherries by putting a sell-on clause in his contract. Expected to make an instant impact at the club, Ibe has failed to deliver in the 2 games he has featured in so far, creating just one goal scoring opportunity during his time on the pitch.
His first touch has been poor and defenders have found it easy to dispossess him, making him a constant liability in the attack for his side. While a certain segment of the educated football critics believe Ibe would thrive in the spine of a team, especially with his footballing instincts that can throw up surprises, his inability to remain untidy in possession could mean that he will never be trusted enough by his managers to feature in the mentioned position.
We mean no harm to Ibe. However, the last few years have been a torrid time for the youngster and it is probably time the player went back to the training ground and worked on the basics of football. The 20-year-old is a hard worker on and off the pitch and with expected playing time in new surroundings and an improvement in his technical abilities, Ibe could once again become one of the most sought after players in England.
While Ibe does benefit from the transfer to Bournemouth, with playing time assured, at least in the beginning, the biggest beneficiaries of the deal are Liverpool. While parting ways with a talented youngster might be seen as a positive, a reported buy-back clause in the player’s contract would prove to be an incredibly smart move, should the player live up to his potential.