At the weekend, 18 year old Belgium winger scored a brace Manchester United. What has followed is the usual hyperbole in the press when a young kid has a good performance.
He is labelled the next superstar. The future of Manchester United. A bright young light. Whilst he is no doubtingly talented, there is a tendency when a youngster has a good performance for him to then be vastly operated.
We have seen it with our own Serge Gnabry over the last couple of weeks. Some average performances alongside some decent performances capped off with a goal against Swansea have led to a lot of Arsenal fans to talk about him having a bright future. Luckily the press do not yet seem to of caught on yet, but within our own ranks, there has been some who have got a little bit over excited.
And it is not a recent phenomenon. Look at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He has never really put in the consistent performances to justify his hype, yet some still rate him higher than Theo Walcott, even though Theo has put in a lot of top performances.
Jack Wilshere has also suffered from it. Labelled the future of England, many put him down as one of the first names on the England team sheet. Yet at 21, due to injuries, he sits on just 10 caps. He made his 1st team competitive debut at 16 years and 256 days, but has not yet fulfilled the promise he showed as a teenager.
Gedion Zelalem is also entering this bracket. Already rated highly. Plenty of excitement about him. Yet he has not yet made his debut for the club. 16 year old Swedish striker Jamal Raage is another one being tipped for a bright future, despite only having scored a couple of goals for the under 18s. People are saying he will play for the under 21’s this year and be in the League Cup squad next year. A lot of hype about a kid who no one has really seen.
And it is not just Arsenal who tend to over hype their youngster. Look at Manchester United and the excitement over Adnan Januzaj. Reports are there is currently an International war breaking out between England and Belgium over who he will play for. This a kid who has played just 3 times for Manchester United.
He is not even Manchester United’s youngest ever goal scorer. That accolade falls to Federico Macheda who scored against Aston Villa in 2008-09. The back end of that season, he had played 4 league games, scoring twice, and big things were expected of him the next year.
Five years later, Federico Macheda is still a Manchester United player, but is now on loan at Doncaster Rovers, via VfB Stuttgart, Queens Park Rangers & Sampdoria. And example if needed over the hyperbole of teenage players based on 1 or 2 performances.
I could name many more who fall under this category. Jack Rodwell was supposed to be the future of England’s midfield. James Vaughan is the Premier League’s youngest ever goal scorer. Joe Cole has had a good career, but nothing compared to the hype he had as a youngster. The list of highly rated youngsters who never quite fulfilled their potential go’s on.
So the moral of the story is, before you get too excited over a Gnabry, Zelalem, or Januzaj, there have been better youngsters who have come through who have failed to make the grade.
Do not put players on a pedestal of greatness until they have earned it.