For all the young hopefuls that break out into the world football there are only a handful that stay the long haul.
Before I begin my list and you decide that there are some ridiculous names mentioned here, this list is not only supposed to represent those who nearly made it but those who are currently on the brink and still could make it big yet have yet to do so. That being said here’s my top five nearly men in football.
Freddy Adu – It seems like the US international has been around for years, simply because he has. Despite only being 23 years old, Adu was drafted into the MLS at only 14 years of age by DC United.
Widely touted as the player to make football huge in America, Freddy Adu has had a helter-skelter career to say the least. A high profile transfer to Benfica heaped the pressure onto the striker where he simply couldn’t cope to say the least, resulting in multiple loan spells around Europe.
Nowadays he has returned to the States playing for the Philadelphia Union in a continuation of a career that can only be described as a car crash – in 7 years of professional football the prodigal son of US soccer has only scored 23 goals.
Bebe – Some Manchester United fans may say it’s unfair to put him on this list as he remains at the club and is still only 21. Yet surely Sir Alex and co. have realised that they made a huge error with taking the advice of former assistant Carlos Queiroz and signing the Portuguese player.
Two years ago, United were looked on favourably for signing the homeless Bebe for a cool £7.4 million, a player who had proven himself as a goal scoring threat in the lower Portugal ranks. Fast-forward 2 years and the player has only made 6 club appearances including 4 during a loan spell at Besiktas. Surely United fans can accept that £7.4 million was a waste?
Giovanni dos Santos – Another guy who people may say still has a chance. Yet for how he was billed in the Barcelona youth academy, dos Santos has certainly not lived up to his potential. The 23 year old Mexican has been prolific for his national team yet simply cannot transfer that form to the numerous clubs he’s represented. Failing to make it in a Barcelona midfield packed with talent, dos Santos made his way to Tottenham in 2008.
Since then he has had loan spells at Ipswich, Galatasary and Racing Santander where he has been ok but certainly not the talent he was hyped up to be. Hopefully Giovanni can turn his form around if he returns to Spurs this summer yet for now he certainly is a ‘nearly man’.
Neil Mellor – Where did he go? Mellor, regarded on Merseyside by some as the next out and out striker since the departure of Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler has certainly seen his career fall of late.
Having scored important goals for the Reds, including one against Olympiakos in the 2005 Champions League group stage to help them qualify out of the group (when they eventually went on to win the competition), Mellor looked like he was about to break out at Anfield.
Yet injuries plagued his stay on Merseyside and after spells at other numerous northwest clubs, Mellor retired this summer due to injuries having never really fully reached his potential.
Jack Rodwell – Controversial I know. The Everton midfielder will probably go on to have a fantastic career at club and international level, yet this is about the nearly men. So far, Rodwell hasn’t completely lived up to his potential, mostly due to injuries hampering his progression.
Yet at 21 the time is now for the centre-back to shine – having seen the likes of Gary Cahill, Martin Kelly and Alex Oxlade-Chameberlain make it into the Euro 2012, Rodwell must be thinking about when he will become a permanent fixture in the England set up.
At club level, Rodwell was last year mentioned in transfer rumours involving Manchester United and Real Madrid. This year nothing has been said about the midfielder moving on. Having been seen as Rio Ferdinand’s replacement, Rodwell has yet to fill such a role for his country or indeed for United. There is still time for him to prove me wrong, yet so far he’s a nearly man.
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