Magazine Predicted The World's Top 50 'Most Exciting Teenage Footballers' In 2007
If Championship/Football Manager has taught us anything, it's that if someone is labelled as a 'wonderkid' or 'one to watch' you should, 95% of the time, take it with a pinch of salt.
So many times a 17-year-old sensation has burst onto the scene with a flurry of fearless performances, giving opposition defences twisted blood, scoring a couple of winning goals and laying on an exquisite assist or two for good measure, prompting a massive contract renewal, more sensible squad number and a personalised chant on the terraces, only to be yesterday's news when they inevitably can't live up to the enormous pressure placed upon them by the hype merchants in the press and on social media.
It's with this in mind that fans have been revisiting a list of the '50 Most Exciting Teenage Footballers' that was published by World Soccer 10 years ago.
The list, of course, does contain many players that have gone onto become world class, household names, such as Sergio Aguero, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Alexis Sanchez, Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Mesut Ozil and Ivan Rakitic. But then there are those that never ended up living up to their early promise, for one reason or another.
Elsewhere on the list, Bojan Krkić is sitting pretty at number eight, having set Barcelona's youth ranks alight before taking in unsuccessful spells with Roma, Ajax, Milan and Stoke City. Injuries have hindered the Spaniard's career and he currently plies his trade in the MLS with Montreal Impact.
Alexandre Pato, one of the many 'Next Big Things' in Brazilian football between Ronaldinho winding down and Neymar turning up, who randomly turned up at Chelsea last year, also makes the list. A decade on and the 30-year-old is currently back in his native Brazil with São Paulo.
Who could also forget Franco Di Santo? The teenage sensation shot to prominence at Chilean outfit Audax Italiano before gaining his big, breakthrough move to Chelsea, where he made 16 appearances in total before being loaned to Blackburn Rovers after a solitary year at Stamford Bridge. The former Blues striker then took in spells with Wigan Athletic, Werder Bremen, Schalke and Rayo Vallecano before winding up at Atletico Mineiro in Brazil.
It would also be remiss of me to not mention the pioneer of the 'Seal Dribble' (or 'drible da foquinha' to give it it's proper name) Kerlon, who was constantly linked with big money moves to Europe after impressing at Cruzeiro with his head based ball juggling. The Brazilian trickster ended up never playing for Internazionale after moving to the San Siro in 2008, despite spending four years in Italy. Once again, injuries played a major part in the destruction of a once promising young career, with Kerlon then taking in spells with a number of clubs across the world, as his impressive Wikipedia history proves.
Running through the list, it also includes one time European Golden Boy Anderson, who lifted a Premier League and Champions League double in his first season with Manchester United but then became more famous for his weight fluctuations rather than his performances on the pitch.
Oh, and obviously, let's not overlook Marouane Fellaini's inclusion on this list, as well, as a pre-afro'd 19-year-old marauding around Standard Liege's midfield before Everton snapped him up a year later.
Words by Joe Baiamonte