Every year the media comes up with stories of new teenage sensations and wonder kids. Some are even labelled as the next Messi or the next Ronaldo. However, most of these teenage sensations fail to live up to the hype that was created and often become squad players or end up playing for mid-table or bottom end clubs.Some of the players who were labelled as future superstars often enjoy a good breakthrough season and move to top clubs and of these players, only very few players are able to consistently deliver for their teams for many seasons on the trot. The rest struggle to cement a place in the starting eleven as they are unable to hit their peak form consistently.So here are five players who were destined to have a big future, but have not been able to reach their peak despite being around for a long time.
#1 Thiago Alcantara
Thiago Alcantara is yet another player to have emerged from the fabled La Masia in recent years. The Spaniard made his first team debut for the Catalans when he was just 18 and many Barcelona fans were sure that he would step into the club’s midfield to take the place of Xavi or Iniesta over the course of time.
The Spaniard led Spain’s U21 squad to a Euro title in 2013 by scoring a perfect hat-trick in the final and it was expected that his career would take off in the following season. However, things took an unexpected turn when Guardiola decided to bring Thiago to Bayern.
Thiago joined a team that had just won the treble and it was obvious that he would have trouble to get game time ahead of the likes of Kroos and Schweinsteiger. He started his Bayern career very well and even set the record for most touches by a player in a game, but a ruptured ligament ended his season prematurely.
In his second season with Bayern, Thiago damaged his ligament again and sat out for several months. He finally made his anticipated return in the ongoing season, but he is struggling to nail down a starting spot. He has started just seven league games so far in this season and that could diminish further if he doesn’t take his game up by a notch.
Thiago is 24 now and halfway through his third season with Bayern Munich, if he hopes to become a regular for club and country in the near future then he has a lot of work to do.
#2 Xherdan Shaqiri
During the 2011-12 season, a relatively unknown Swiss prodigy named Xherdan Shaqiri, who was playing for FC Basel, caught the eyes of millions of football fans around the world. He almost single handily took the mighty Manchester United to the cleaners with an amazing performance.
It didn’t take long for him to get recognised as European giants Bayern Munich snapped up the talented player in February 2012 so that he could join the Bavarian club prior to the 2012-13 season.
Shaqiri joined a Bayern side that was unstoppable and he found game time hard to come by due the amazing form of Robben, Ribery and Muller. He did win the treble with Bayern while he was there, but he didn’t play a crucial role in it.
There wasn’t much change in Shaqiri’s playing time under Guardiola either and a significant number of his appearances came off the bench. In the end, a transfer away from Bayern was inevitable and he joined Internazionale.
Shaqiri started decently at Inter, but he couldn’t find his feet there either. The Italian club were ready to offload him after just half a season. The Swiss international made a shocking move to Stoke City prior to the ongoing season and endured a difficult start. In fact he has scored just twice for Stoke so far and both goals came in the same game.
In the space of a year, Xherdan Shaqiri went from Bayern Munich to Stoke City – this alone speaks volumes about his situation. He jumped into the limelight at a young age, but not much has changed since. Shaqiri clearly has the potential to be a world class player and hopefully, Stoke can give him the required platform.
#3 Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere broke into the Arsenal first team when he was just 16 years old and slowly and steadily became a first team regular.
The talented Englishman gained plenty of admirers during the 2010/11 season when he produced a scintillating display against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in a 2-1 win at the Emirates.
Wilshere has received heaps of praises from his managers, his teammates, other managers and even from players of other teams because of his playing style and abilities. However, the 24 year old is struggling to get a run of games with Arsenal due to his continuous injury problems.
He could easily be the figure Gerrard was for Liverpool or Lampard was for Chelsea, but if I were Arsene Wenger, then I wouldn’t take the risk of building my team around a player who spends more time on the treatment than on the training ground.
Wilshere made his debut in 2008, but became a regular for the side from the 2010-11 season where he played in 35 league games. However he couldn’t follow it up in the next season as he was out injured for the whole season.
For a player who has been around for so long, Wilshere hasn’t played enough games for Arsenal. He has played in just 100 league games for the Gunners and he is in his eight season with the senior side.
Wilshere is yet to make an appearance this season due to yet another injury and even when he does return to the team it is unlikely that he will get the chance to start ahead of the likes of Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil or even Coquelin.
If Wilshere wants to become an Arsenal legend then he has to maintain his fitness and also work really hard to become a regular starter.
#4 Andre Schurrle
When Chelsea purchased one of the best young German players, Andre Schurrle, for a hefty fee, it was considered as a big step in the forward’s career.
Schurrle became a hit in Germany while playing for Mainz and Leverkusen. He spent two seasons each with these clubs and scored 43 goals in those four seasons combined.
During his first season at Chelsea, Schurrle couldn’t feature in his preferred position down the left wing because of Eden Hazard and he was often played down the right or as a striker because of the poor form of Fernando Torres. He scored nine goals for Chelsea in his debut season, but it was a poor return from a player for whom Chelsea paid over €20 million. In addition to his difficulty in finding the back of the net, the German also had trouble cementing his place in Mourinho’s starting XI.
Midway through his second season in England, Schurrle returned to Germany to play for Wolfsburg who were pushing for a Champions League spot. However, he couldn’t hit the ground running with Wolfsburg like he did with Mainz and Leverkusen.
Wolfsburg boss, Dieter Hecking, even went ahead and said that he expects more from the German international. Schurrle is yet to become a regular starter at the club and has scored just thrice for Wolfbsurg in all competitions since he moved to the club.
The 25 year old assisted Gotze’s winning goal in the final of the FIFA World Cup, but he has plenty of work to do if he hopes to secure a place in Germany’s squad for the next Euro.
#5 Mario Gotze
The Golden Boy winner in 2011 and the scorer of the winning goal in the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup – Mario Gotze has some incredible achievements on his resume, but he is far from the level people expected him to reach at this point.
Gotze rose to prominence while playing for Borussia Dortmund. He was one of the youngest members of the side, but was an integral member of the side and even won the Bundesliga young player of the year award in 2010-11.
The German chose to move to Dortmund’s arch rivals Bayern Munich prior to the 2013-14 season so that he could play under Pep Guardiola whom he admired. Sadly for Gotze, things haven’t looked that bright since his move to Bayern.
Gotze hasn’t been able to break into the starting XI after two and a half seasons with the club. His appearances are often from the bench and when he does get a start it is usually because of injuries to other player or because Guardiola wants to rest his key players.
The youngster has scored 15 goals each in his first two seasons with the Bavarian club, but he hasn’t been able to reach the level Bayern hoped he would achieve. If rumours are to be believed then Bayern have no interest in offering Gotze a contract extension at the moment and his future with the side is a big question mark. This is understandable because he was voted by his peers as the second worst player in the league for the 2014/15 season.
Gotze had the chance to get a run of games as a starter in this season following the injuries to Robben and Ribery, but he too was unfortunately injured early in the season and will now find it even more difficult to get playing time due to the incredible form of Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman.
The 23-year-old has the chance to turn his fortunes around under Carlos Ancelotti in the next season or he could move to Liverpool and reunite with Jurgen Klopp under whom he thrived at Dortmund.