The word talented and prodigy gets thrown around far too often these days and it makes every upcoming footballer look like the next big star in the making. Few years later, most of them end up playing for average teams and never get the success they were once tipped for.
One key reason for those talented players to drift away with time is wrong career moves at the wrong time. We often see players move to bigger teams just at the age of 18 or 19 and then struggle to play regular first team football.
At a time when they need to play week-in-week-out, they end up gracing the bench and carry the label of being a future prospect. Coming through the academy ranks is different because they can always fall back to the Under-21 side to get some playing time.
However, a player signed for the senior team will never like the prospects of featuring in the Under-21 squad. Gradually it starts to take a toll on the player and on the club. It eventually results in either player getting sold or left frustrated by the lack of opportunities.
In recent years Premier League has seen several players arrive at top clubs at relatively young age and then drift away with time. Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku may have enjoyed a successful 2015/16 season but their time at Chelsea saw them suffer because of saying yes to a bigger team far too early in their career.
Memphis Depay is another example who is feeling burdened by the expectation surrounding his move to Manchester United. One good season with PSV and he was seen as the next Cristiano Ronaldo. Had he stayed with PSV for one more season, we may have seen if Memphis had the consistency to his game to play for a top European side.
Raphael Varane is another one who comes to mind when I think of a player who could have opted to focus on his development as a footballer rather than getting swayed away by the opportunity to play for a top European side.
Among the recent crop of players, Ezequiel Ponce has joined AS Roma at the age of 19 and is doing nothing but to warm the bench for the Serie A giants. At that age, a striker or any player for that matter needs to develop as a professional footballer and not get in awe of training with their idols.
This trend among the young players needs to be curbed if we are to see some explosive players emerging on the scene in coming years. They need to realize the importance of playing rather than being on the roaster of a top European side.
Players must understand that if they are talented then sooner or later they will play for a top European side. However, if they get dumped by a European side early in their career then it becomes very tough for them to kick-start their professional journey.
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