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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

 10  |  TOUCHLINEMAGAZINE.COM                                                    TOUCHLINEMAGAZINE.COM  |  11
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