6. Bojan Krkic
Bojan Krkic’s surprise move to the Britannia Stadium stokes memories of a teenage forward promising so much in the colours of Barcelona, only for the hope in his abundant potential to slowly ebb away during largely unsuccessful spells at Roma and Milan and Ajax on loan.
Bojan has just signed a four-year deal with Stoke and boss Mark Hughes believes the 23-year-old, who scored 27 goals in over 100 appearances for Barca before joining Roma in 2011, can finally realise his full potential and be a big success in England.
"He's desperate to prove himself in the Premier League and we're pleased to be able to offer him that platform,” Hughes said.
Bojan's Stoke are 2.00 to beat Aston Villa in their opening Premier League game of the season.
5. Federico Macheda
Manchester United spent a long time trying to get Macheda from Lazio, but when they did they believed they had one of the world’s brightest young talents on their hands.
But after only 19 starts for United and six loan spells at everywhere from Sampdoria to Doncaster, Macheda’s young promise was never realised in the red of Manchester United, who eventually sold him to Cardiff City, who were relegated from the Premier League last season.
But one nugget of consolation for Macheda was his vital goals that kept United on track for the title in 2009, most notably his injury time winner against Aston Villa at Old Trafford. A star? No. A cult hero? Oh yes.
4. Francis Jeffers
Arsene Wenger is well known for his shrewd signings, but the £8million acquisition of Francis Jeffers in 2001 was not his finest hour. His 18 goals in 49 games for Everton was enough to convince him to pay Everton more than Arsenal spent on Thierry Henry.
Jeffers actually has a Premier League title and two FA Cup winners’ medals to his name, but his role in those triumphs was minimal. He managed only 22 games and four goals for the Gunners before being boxed up and sent back to Everton on loan, before his career path took him on a long road to Charlton, Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday, two spells at Australia’s Newcastle Jets, Motherwell, Malta’s Floriana and finally Accrington Stanley.
3. Nii Lamptey
The Ghanaian Pele, they used to call him, but Lamptey was never able to fulfil the promise he’d shown as a youngster.
Lamptey’s story is actually quite a sad one. Abused by his father when he was youngster, he would sleep rough in Ghana to avoid going home. His talent was discovered and, at only 14, he was selected to play for Ghana at the U16 World Cup in Scotland. After the tournament he fled to Belgium and signed for Anderlecht, where he was a big success.
He was transferred to PSV and scored 10 goals in 22 games but was stung by an Italian agent, Antonio Caliendo, who failed to deliver what he promised. Lamptey tried to resurrect his career and Aston Villa and Coventry – but it was too late for a player exploited by others in the name of greed.
A few years ago, Kerlon was the next big thing in Brazilian football. His unique skillset, which included his remarkable ability to dribble the ball down the wing on his head (called the 'Seal Dribble'), attracted Inter Milan after an impressive youth career at Brazilian club Cruzeiro. He was even voted best player at the 2005 South American U17 championship.
However, Kerlon never made the grade at Inter and struggled in his subsequent loan spells at Chievo, Ajax, Parana, Nacional-NS. Kerlon tried to get his career back on track at Japanese club Fujieda MYFC but, after nine goals in 22 games over two seasons, Kerlon, who was beset with knee problems, was released in 2014.
1. Freddy Adu
Freddy Adu is the ultimate failed football wonderkid. At 14, he became the youngest American ever to sign a major league professional contract when he was chosen by DC United as the number one overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft.
Adu made his full US debut in 2006 and his talent was spotted by Benfica, who signed the 18-year-old for £1million. But Adu was quickly dubbed a failure after struggling in the first team and was shipped off to Monaco, Belenenses, Aris and Caykur Rizespor on loan.
Adu seemed to have steadied his faltering career with a return to MLS with Philadelphia Union, for whom he scored 7 goals in 35 games, but he has since returned to Europe but failed to impress on trial at Blackpool in February 2014. Dutch club AZ Alkmaar took Adu on trial earlier this month, but also decided against offering him a permanent deal. At 25, Adu is currently without a club.
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