Marcus Rashford and Kelechi Iheanacho have enjoyed dream starts to their respective senior careers.
At only 20, Iheanacho has 17 goals in 42 appearances for Manchester City. Meanwhile, an 18 year-old Rashford has notched up 12 goals for Manchester United in just 27 outings.
The two strikers on either side of the Manchester divide appear to have big futures ahead of them. However, the tale of an exciting young striker coming through the ranks, plundering goals for fun but then fading into obscurity is one that’s told too often.
Rarely do such talents sustain their form and go the distance. At present, both Iheanacho and Rashford are well on course but here are five strikers who strayed and lost their way.
At just 14, Freddy Adu signed with DC United in Major League Soccer. The teenager repaid his huge wages by helping the team to an MLS Cup win in his first season. He debuted for the United States at 16 and had a trial at Manchester United but was denied a work permit.
Adu was drafted to Real Salt Lake and that’s when it all went wrong. He failed to make an impact and was moved on to Benfica before further transfers disrupted his career.
Arguably the most dramatic debut goal Old Trafford has ever witnessed. Macheda was introduced in the 80th minute against Aston Villa with Manchester United trailing 1-0 at a key juncture in the 2008-09 Premier League title race.
Following an equaliser from Cristiano Ronaldo, Macheda produced a sublime curled finish to win the game in stoppage time. He scored in the following week again but failed to impress on several loan spells thereafter.
Pato was supposed to be the answer to Brazil’s problems in the striking department. After Adriano didn’t live up to his billing, the likes of Ronaldino, Kaka and Robinho were left with no focal point in attack.
For about three seasons at AC Milan, Pato was developing into the striker Brazil needed. He scored 48 goals in 105 outings but his form eventually suffered as he indulged in a partying lifestyle.
Such was Lamptey’s initial promise that the rules of the Belgian’s top flight were changed so that he could play professionally for Anderlecht as a 16 year-old.
He scored nine times in 30 appearances for the Belgian outfit before a loan move to PSV Eindhoven. He was top scorer in his only season with the Dutch outfit, reaching double figures.
However, his agent Antonio Caliendo, did not act in the player’s best interests when he sold him to Aston Villa the following season where he failed to make an impact. A transfer to Coventry City and a few loan moves later, Lamptey had fallen off the radar after failing to come good.
In many ways, Francis Jeffers was the original Wayne Rooney, just one that never went on to enjoy a successful career. He made his debut for Everton at the age of 16 and despite suffering from injuries, he went on to score 21 times over four seasons.
Such was his talent that Arsene Wenger spent a hefty sum to bring him to Highbury but Jeffers failed to kick-on and was loaned back to The Toffees before jumping from club to club in the lower divisions, eventually ending up in Australia with the Newcastle Jets.
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