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            FOOTBALLERS                                                                                                            Football failures generally fall into two

                                                                                                                                   camps. There are the young players who

                                                                                                                                   get sunstroke from the early spotlight and

                                                                                                                                   never fulfill their overstated promise, and

            WHO NEVER FULFILLED                                                                                                    then there are the older players who make

                                                                                                                                   a big money transfer and bomb.
                                                                                    By Timothy Mottram

                                                                                                                                   some English exposure at famously   kid was. Scouts from the biggest clubs   move to Manchester City ensued.
                                                                                                                                   unfashionable Stoke City in 2014.   on the planet were in attendance and   Different league, same problems.
                                                                                                                                   This was followed by time on the
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Robinho ended up back in Brazil,
                                                                                                                                                                     were watching to see if he really was
             “      A Star Is Born” screamed the headline of Marca on Sunday,                                                      probably richer than most footballers,   supernatural control was evident in   to the public with his tepid displays.
                                                                                                                                                                     the best Brazilian since Ronaldino. His
                                                                                                                                                                                                      where he has hardly endeared himself
                                                                                                                                   Bundesliga and back in Spain. He is
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Youth is wasted on the young, and
                                                                                                                                   but he was never destined to fill
                                                                                                                                                                     his trademark move, the ‘seal dribble’.
                    September 15th, 2019. Football had its new god.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      failure in tyros can be factored in.
                                                                                                                                                                     Running at pace, he could bounce the
                                                                                                                                   Messi’s size 7 boots.
                                                                                                                                      Another player whose
                                                                                                                                                                     ball on his forehead without skipping
                                                                                                                                                                                                      But sometimes a mature player ends
                                                Barcelona, it would appear, have
                                                                                                                                                                     the only way to get the ball back,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      lots of money has been exchanged.
              If only we hadn’t been down this
                                                                                                                                   the hype was Freddy Adu. Darling
                                                                               players who get sunstroke from the
                                                                                                                                   of the Championship Manager
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In 2001, Gaika Mendieta was sold to
            road so often.                    their new Messi.                 into two camps. There are the young                 performance would never match     a beat. Given that fouling him was   up on the wrong side of form after
                                                                                                                                                                     that is what happened. Slight and not
              On his debut at the Camp Nou,     Unless they don’t!             early spotlight and never fulfill their             computer game, Adu was the subject   particularly robust, he was chopped   Lazio for 50 million, which would be
            Ansu Fati managed to score after 111   There are plenty of stories like   overstated promise, and then there           of much wrangling when trying to   down frequently enough that he spent   the equivalent of three or four times
            seconds. He was aged 16 years and   this: perhaps not with such an   are the older players who make a big              get naturalised in the United States.   more time on a physio table than on   that in today’s market. A player in
            318 days. And this wasn’t even his first   overwhelmingly stunning debut, but   money transfer and bomb.               Dubbed the New Pele, the Americans   the field. Inter Milan finally came in   his prime who bossed the Valencia
            goal for Barcelona: that had come two   there have been all manner Pele’s over   Welcome to the world of the the       were hungry for a genuinely world   for him, which was the death knell   midfield, he was seen as a no-risk
            weeks previously when he scored as a   the years. They read like a rogue’s   never-quites and the should-have-         class player. They did not get one.   for his career. He didn’t play a minute   purchase. As it turned out, he could
            sub at Osasuna. That strike made him   gallery: Adriano, Adu, Denilson,   done-betters.                                Undoubtedly skillful, the pressure was   for the Italian team and missed out   not fill the boots of Pavel Nedved
            Barca’s youngest scorer, and the third   Mendieta...all had the price tags and   Barca’s next youngest ever scorer?    too much and his career never really   on the formative period that makes a   or Juan Sebastian Veron, and was
            youngest in La Liga history.      the hype, and they tend to end their   Bojan Krkic. The hype surrounding             got off the ground. After decent stints   great player. Last spotted in the Slovak   farmed out to Barcelona, where he
              The game at his home ground,    careers in the backwaters of Turkey.   this academy graduate is perhaps              in the States, he headed for Europe,   Super Liga.                 became a bit part player. His fall can
            in front of over 87,000 fans, was   So what goes wrong? How is it that   why Ansu’s reception has been                 which is where is all went a bit wrong.   Some players manage to straddle   be quantified by one fact: his next stop
            the official announcement of his   extraordinary talent can just, well, go   downplayed by senior members of           AS Monaco was probably the highest-  the divide between talent-to-success   was Middlesborough.
            candidacy as the newest-next-     away?                            the playing staff at the club. Krkic                profile side that he turned out for, but   deficit and big-money flop. Throw in   Ansu’s introduction to football
            greatest player. He did not put a foot   It is actually surprising that it   was seen as the next Messi while the      failure stacked on failure and he even   a bad attitude and we get to Robinho.   might have pulses racing, but there
            wrong. Immediately after the goal, he   doesn’t happen more often. All the   Argentine was still in his pomp. Great    had a punt at Caykur Rizespor, a tiny   As a teenager, the Brazilian turned   will be plenty in Barcelona telling him
            provided the perfect assist to make it   ingredients are there: take a 16 year-  things were expected, and while he    club from the Turkish Black Sea. Now   heads in the white of Santos, which   that this might be as good as it gets.
            2-0, and then produced an astonishing   old, add Olympian expectations,   didn’t fail as a footballer, he certainly    back in America, he has played for   had him pegged as the New Pele,
            nutmeg and shot which missed the   tonnes of money, an entourage,   did not light the world on fire. He                thirteen clubs in eight years.    which is getting a little tiresome. He
            goal by an inch. He was brought down   unscrupulous agents, and the risk   became something of a journeyman               A name that might not come to   had his pick of giants to join, and in
            in the area but denied a penalty. And   of injury, and it is a wonder that any   after a muted second and third season   mind is Kerlon. Flashback to the 2005   the end went to Real Madrid. He never
            in between these incidents, he played   player actually makes it.   at the club, and after some lukewarm               South American Under 17s, and the   gave the Bernabeu the consistency
            with verve and vision.              Football failures generally fall   loan spells at AC Milan and Ajax, got           whole world knew exactly who this   they required, and another big money

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