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Should the Careers of Youngsters be assumed?

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Should the Careers of Youngsters be assumed? – Why it is not a great idea to make early assumptions about the future careers of football Youngsters

The Ronaldo to Man United story, myth or not, is also instructive. Right before Ferguson’s eyes, he saw an 18-year-old kid playing at a level above against his own team. Whether that triggered a scouting session or confirmed a former lead on him, I do not know. But it mattered.

When I first saw Youri Tielemans, a 16 or 17 year old midfielder who was running the game against Wenger’s Arsenal midfield, I knew he was special. To be able to show that level of quality under that kind of pressure and against those kind of names shows a top mental profile.

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Wilshere definitely would have been great. He was one of the few left-footed midfielders in the sport who could turn on a dime and control proceedings in the first and second phase whilst having the quality to pick out devastating final balls from deep ala a certain Cesc Fabregas.

He really should’ve been the heir to Cesc but injuries of course resulted in that not being possible for him. His technique, ability to turn, and pass selections were an incredible combination. He could kill the opposition with circulatory, progressive & penetrative passing.

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Wilshere is a case study for why I make zero assumptions about the careers of Pedri, Yeremy, Camavinga, Gavi, Serrano, Fati, Vinicius Junior, etc. I hope for progress, fitness, favorable environments – but we’ve seen too many players with such potential fail to match expectations.

We can’t work teenagers like grown men in their physical prime, then act shocked when they have a sharp decline by 30-32. Fabregas, Wilshere, Rooney, etc.

Brazilians superstars (Neymar most recent one) in particular seem to suffer from a super sharp decline as soon as they turn 30-ish. A pattern that may very well be a result of burning out after too many games in young ages.

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In Brazil, they play a lot of football – regional, state, national, continental. All those games accumulate, coupled with their lifestyle makes for a short career. Though these days, the brightest youngsters are moving to Europe way too early.

17-year-old Gavi played 47 matches. 18-year-old Pedri played 52 matches. Messi didn’t play that many matches in a season until he was 22. Cesc was playing 45+ matches by 17, sharply declined at 30/31. Messi’s career length doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about kids’ workloads.

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I’d also like to see how much running they did, comparatively. How many kms over the course of those seasons. That’s the main concern with Koke, for example. He wasn’t overplayed as a teen, he’s just been worked to death under Simeone for a decade.

Messi breaking out because he’s the ‘goat’ was great timing. Pedri is overused as much because there’s no alternative even close. And Gavi is even less of an essential need at the moment Breaking out as a teen isn’t the reason a player makes it/fails. It’s 1 variable (of many) in their developmental curve. Not all squads provide the opportunity for young talent to break into the 1st team as a regular. To deny early opportunity being an influence is silly.


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