Eight years ago, the guys over at FourFourMagazine released a list of footballers under the age of 20 that would be ‘on top of the football world’ by the year 2019.
Described as a ‘celebration’ of the 20 best young players in world football, the likes of Neymar, Christian Eriksen and Eden Hazard feature in the list.
But a number of names on this list will certainly raise a few eyebrows.For example, number four on the list is Adem Ljajic, who was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in 2010, even training with the club on a number of occasions.
United eventually decided not to take up their option to sign the Serbian midfielder due to issues surrounding the club’s application for a work permit.Ljajic’s career never really got going after that and eight years on, he is currently playing for Turkish side Besiktas after spells at Fiorentina, Roma and Torino.Image: PAFormer Arsenal speedster Ryo Miyaichi was another player who was expected to make a real breakthrough in world football. But again, he failed to make an impact and struggled to get first team minutes under Arsene Wenger.
The Japanese winger is currently plying his trade at German second division side St Pauli after loan spells at Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and FC Twente.Image: PAHere is the full list of the top 20 footballers under 20 that would be on top of the football world by 2019.
David De Gea
Mario BalotelliImage: PAFour years earlier, back in 2007, World Soccer Magazine released a list of the most exciting youth players in world football.
12 years after the original piece was published, the magazine managed to predict the dominance of Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale and Manchester City’s all-time top scorer Sergio Aguero.But many of the players mentioned below never quite managed to live up to expectations.
Here is the top 10 list in full:
Sadick Adams (Striker, Atletico Madrid/Ghana)Adams produced a number of impressive performances at the U17 World Cup in 2007 and as a result, he earned himself a dream move to Atletico Madrid
The Ghanian, born in 1990, managed to score nine goals in 22 games in the Atletico B team but despite a decent goals to games ratio, he didn’t make enough of an impact to break into the first team.
It went downhill from then onwards. Spells in Saudi Arabia and Turkey followed but he never really lived up to the hype.
The number one spot in this list now plays as a striker for Asante Kotoko in the Ghana Premier League.
Image: AgoronetIsmail Aissati (Attacking Midfielder, PSV/Holland)
Aissati made a name for himself in the PSV first team at a young age and was tipped for big things at the Philips Stadium.
But after reported contract disputes, he was eventually sold to fierce rivals Ajax for €4 million in 2008.
He left Holland in 2012 after making just 36 appearances for the club, and soon joined Turkish side Antalyaspor before joining Russian side Terek Grozny in the summer of 2013. It was a fall from grace for Aissati, who now plays for Turkish second division side Denizlispor
Alexandre Pato (Striker, AC Milan/Brazil)Once touted as one of the hottest prospects in football, Alexandre Pato began his career with a huge amount of promise but his unfortunate luck with injuries was arguably his biggest downfall.
The Brazilian, who has played for AC Milan, Chelsea and Villarreal in a respectable 13 year career, has often given the world glimpses of his talents.
His best spell came at the San Siro when he bagged 51 goals in 117 games for the Italian giants, but many believe he could have been the full article if it wasn’t for injury setbacks.
Pato now plays for Sao Paulo after signing last month.
Anderson (Attacking Midfielder, Manchester United/Brazil)Anderson’s big money move to Old Trafford back in 2007 meant that plenty of expectation was placed on the 19-year-old’s shoulders, and in parts he made a big impact at United, winning the Champions League in 2008 amongst other titles.
The Brazilian left The Reds in 2015 after a loan spell at Fiorentina, and played his football for Internacional in his homeland Brazil for a brief spell.
He now plays in the second tier of Turkish football with Adana Demirspor.
Giovani dos Santos (Attacking Midfielder, Barcelona/Mexico)Many at Barcelona spoke of dos Santos as the heir to Ronaldinho’s throne but after a reported £6 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, his career went slowly downhill, with loan spells at Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing Santander following. Dos Santos did, however, enjoy his most prolific spell with Villarreal, making 58 appearances and scoring 12 times.
He did play at MLS side LA Galaxy until they parted ways with the forward last month.
Gareth Bale (Full Back, Tottenham/Wales)People forget Gareth Bale actually struggled when he first joined Tottenham. Many believed Spurs had overpaid for Bale but the Welsh international soon developed into one of the world’s best.
That hat trick against Inter in the Champions League helped. Sorry, Maicon. Of course, Bale now plays for Real Madrid after a big money move in 2013. I don’t have to say much more, to be honest…
Sergio Aguero (Striker, Atletico Madrid/Argentina)Here’s another player who has exceeded expectation. Aguero quickly established himself as a regular at Atletico after making his debut in 2007 and three years later, he left Madrid for Manchester in a reported deal worth £38 million.
He is now forging a legendary status at the Etihad.
Aguero has scored 29 goals in 38 games under Pep Guardiola this season, leading the way in the Premier League goalscoring charts once more.
Oh, and he’s also the club’s all-time top scorer with 228 goals. Not a bad shout, World Soccer Magazine.
Bojan Krkic (Striker, Barcelona/Spain)Once upon a time, he was flourishing in the Barcelona set-up alongside Lionel Messi and co.
Expectation was naturally high and in 2007, he broke Lionel Messi’s record as the youngest Barca player to feature in a La Liga game. Three days later, he made his Champions League debut and the world awaited a superstar.
But sometimes things don’t go to plan in football, and his career has gone downhill since.
Then again we can always look at back at Football Manager 2009 and remember one of the deadliest striker’s to ever exist on the popular game. Barca weren’t exactly keen to offload the Spaniard, but once you managed to get a deal through, goals would flow like a broken tap.
The 28-year-old now plays for Championship side Stoke City.
Credit: PABreno (Defender, Sao Paulo/Brazil)Now this is an incredible story.
Bayern Munich signed highly-rated defender Breno back in 2008 after It was reported that the Brazilian had turned down Real Madrid because they wanted a bone sample to see if he was indeed 18 years old.
Three years later he was arrested on suspicion of arson after his rented apartment burned down. He was charged in April 2012 and sentenced to three years and nine months in jail.Following his release in August 2013, Breno went on to sign for Brazilian club Sao Paulo but made just five appearances for the club.
He now plays for Vasco de Gama, aged 29.
Gerardo Bruna (Attacking Midfielder, Liverpool/Argentina)Bruna failed to make the grade at Liverpool after signing from the Real Madrid academy.
After his failed spell with the Reds, he moved to Blackpool in 2011. He played just four games in two years at Bloomfield Road.
He now plays his football with League Of Ireland side Derry City after being released by Ottawa Fury in the North American Soccer League.
How the mighty have fallen.