World Football: The Top 10 Most Promising Players That Never Made It

Andres EhrliCorrespondent IIIJune 3, 2011

World Football: The Top 10 Most Promising Players That Never Made It

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Every year we read about lots of players that are supposed to be the next big thing in football. 

    It's no surprise that some of them never actually pan out the way media thinks they will. 

    However, there are some players in particular that not only didn't play the way people expected but also continued to be a promise throughout their career.

    These are the top 10 promising players that never made it. 

10. Fernando Gago

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Position:

    Defensive Midfielder

    Played For:

    Boca Juniors, Real Madrid.

    What was expected of him:

    Being Fernando Redondo's clone. 

    Holding Argentina's midfield for 10 years. 

    Being the world's best passing defending midfielder. 

    Best Achievement:

    Scoring two career goals as a pro. One with Boca and another with Madrid. 

    Costing Los Blancos €20.5 million.

    Winning two leagues with Real Madrid.

    Actually being a starter for some time with Los Merengues.

    Why he failed:

    Just not as good as advertised. 


9. Joaquin

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Position:

    Winger

    Played For:

    Betis, Valencia.

    What was expected of him:

    Being Spain's best player and a dribbling winger in the mould of Ronaldinho.

    He was supposed to be a candidate to be Spain's bid to be a Ballon d'Or. 

    Joaquin was also linked to real Madrid every other offseason.

    Needless to say, he never landed there.

    Best Achievement:

    Being a Winger for Spain's NT and transferring to Valencia for €25 million. 

    Why he failed:

    Mental issues and injuries.  

8. Riquelme

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    Photogamma/Getty Images

    Position:

    Attacking midfielder.

    Played For:

    Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Villarreal

    What was expected of him:

    Rivaling Zidane to be the world's best playmaker.

    Being the next Maradona. 

    Winning Argentina's third World Cup.

    Best Achievement:

    Actually wearing Argentina's No.10, even though he preferred No.8. 

    Four League titles in Argentina and three Copa Libertadores. 

    Playing in Europe. 

    Why he failed:

    Mental issues. Didn't like to run because he was "talented." 

7. Robinho

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    Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

    Position:

    Winger, Striker

    Played For:

    Santos, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Santos, Milan

    What was expected of him:

    Being the world's best player.

    Being the next Pelé (when he was 21). 

    Best Achievement:

    Playing FIFA Street while on a real football pitch.  

    Being a Copa América top scorer.

    Costing Madrid €40 million.

    Costing Manchester City €42.5 million.

    Costing Madrid €18 million.

    Costing World Economy over €100 million.

    Why he failed:

    Too many tricks, too little football.

6. Adriano

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Position:

    Striker

    Played For:

    Flamengo, Inter, Fiorentina, Parma, Sao Paolo, Flamengo, Roma, Corinthians.

    What was expected of him:

    Being the world's best player.

    Leading Inter to glory in Europe. 

    With Kaká and Ronaldinho, leading Brazil to many World Cup victories. 

    Being Ronaldo's successor in Brazil. 

    Best Achievement:

    Having a terrific season in 2005 (just before he had a terrific time celebrating it by drinking). 

    Four Serie A's with Inter. 

    Making people continue to trust him despite him botching every new opportunity he gets. 

    Why he failed:

    Partying and not training. Also, his alcoholism didn't help. At all. 


5. Bojan

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Position:

    Striker

    Played For:

    Barcelona

    What was expected of him:

    Being "the New Lionel Messi."

    Starting as Barça's striker for 10 years.

    Breaking every scoring record in FC Barcelona's history.

    Best Achievement:

    Still being a Barcelona player. 

    Winning three Leagues and two Champions Leagues as a sub.

    Being called up to Spain's NT just to prevent him playing with Serbia. 

    Why he failed:

    His talent as a youth player didn't translate physically as a pro.

    Doesn't have enough strength to shield people off the ball.

    There is only one Messi. 

4. Guti

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Position:

    Attacking Midfielder

    Played For:

    Real Madrid, Besiktas.

    What was expected of him:

    Being Real Madrid's maestro for 15 years. 

    Leading Spain to International relevance. 

    Best Achievement:

    Being an eternal promise. 

    Warming Madrid's bench for 15 years. 

    Having people actually continue to believe in him for those 15 years.

    Doing ridiculously talented passes when he felt like it. 

    Not being cut for the poor effort he gave almost every match. 

    Why he failed:

    Partying. Not training. Knowing he was talented and taking it for granted. 

3. Javier Saviola

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Position:

    Striker. 

    Played For:

    River Plate, Barcelona, Monaco, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Benfica.

    What was expected of him:

    Being the world's best player.

    Being the next Maradona. 

    Winning Argentina's third World Cup.

    Best Achievement:

    Scoring more than 20 league goals only once.

    Top Scorer and MVP of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

    Scoring 11 International goals with Argentina. 

    Costing Barça €20 million (they got what they wanted from Saviola from a certain Lionel Messi for free, though).

    Why he failed:

    Fantastic at youth level but didn't translate to the pro level (see Bojan).

2. Denilson

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Position:

    Winger

    Played For:

    Sao Paolo, Betis, Flamengo, Bordeaux, Al-Nasr, FC Dallas, Palmeiras, Itumbara, Xi Mang Hai Pong, AO Kavala. 

    What was expected of him:

    Being the world's best player.

    Being more than a one-trick pony on the wing. 

    Actually being good. 

    Best Achievement:

    Actually playing in 1997 Copa America.

    Winning the 2002 World Cup and other tournaments with Brazil. As a sub. 

    Being in Nike commercials doing tricks. 

    Doing tricks. 

    Costing Betis a then world record transfer fee of nearly €30 million in 1998.

    Why he failed:

    He went to the wrong club for money when he had a similar offer from Barcelona.

    It all went downhill from there. 

    If you look at Nike Ads, however, you could swear he was as good as Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.

1. Freddy Adu

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    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Position:

    Attacking midfielder, Forward. 

    Played For:

    D.C. United, Real Salt Lake, Benfica, AS Monaco, Os Beleneses, Aris, Caykur Rizespor. 

    What was expected of him:

    Being the world's best player.

    Being the next Pelé (when he was 10). 

    Carrying US "Soccer" to world class level.

    Best Achievement:

    Being two-time MLS All-Star.

    Scoring two goals for the US National Team.

    (Yep, he sucks that much). 

    Why he failed:

    It seems he just never was all that good, after all.