Soccer is the most widely played sport in the planet. Many kids all around the world aspire to play for the world's most prestigious clubs, such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, and Juventus. Only a few will ever make it to the top, and many have faded away after promising starts. It's only half the battle to get there. When they do, these athletes must retain their current levels of talent and motivation. A move to a big club is sometimes a gamble for players. In a nutshell, they see it as a means to fame and fortune. However, this isn't always the case. Today, we'll take a look at 7 footballers that rose to the top and then faded away. Some were harmed and never reached their full potential. Others grew old and their professions faded away. Then there are individuals who simply couldn't handle the pressures of an elite membership. Take a look at the list below.
10. Gaizka Mendieta
Gaizka Mendieta, a former Spain star, could be considered a player who did not reach his full potential, especially considering he joined Lazio in 2001 for a cost of over €48 million (R932 million). He returned to Spain after a year on a season-long loan with FC Barcelona, where he became a bit-part player, before joining Middlesbrough on a short-term agreement in 2003, where he spent the rest of his career.
9. David Bently
Ex-Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Bentley, like ex-Brazil international Robinho, struggled to develop into the player he was expected to be. Despite a long career with the Selecao, the talented forward failed to make an impression at Real Madrid before joining Manchester City for a season and a half.
8. Alex Song
Song, who was born in Cameroon, became one of Arsenal's most dependable players in 2008. It took him a few of seasons to break into the first squad, but he eventually established himself as one of the league's greatest defensive midfielders. Then, after three outstanding seasons with Arsenal, he was snatched up by Barcelona. This proved to be a watershed point in his career, but not in a positive way. He couldn't resist the Catalan giants' allure, who signed him because of his flexibility. But he never established himself as a regular starter at the Camp Nou, and he spent a couple of seasons on loan at West Ham. However, his condition deteriorated, and he found himself in Russia before he realized it. He faded away with the likes of Swiss team Sion after a few of seasons with Rubin Kazan. Song was never able to match his Arsenal excellence.
7. Andrey Arshavin
Arshavin was a standout performer in Euro 2008. During the competition, the then-Zenit St. Petersburg star was outstanding, guiding Russia to a semi-final position. He was a small attacker who lit up every soccer pitch he walked onto. As a result, Arsenal decided to make him their most expensive signing ever then. While he had flashes of brilliance, such as a four-goal performance against Liverpool, he was never consistently excellent for Arsenal. After that, they loaned him back to Zenit before selling him to the Russian behemoths. Arshavin, on the other hand, was past his prime at this point, and his career began to wane after that. Before heading to Kazakhstan, he spent another season in Russia with FC Kuban. Finally, he finished his professional career with kairat in Almaty, Kazakhstan's capital.
6. Federico Macheda
Manchester United's remarkable record of nurturing and giving opportunities to talented young academy graduates means that, while they have produced more homegrown superstars than others, many of their most highly touted prospects have failed to deliver. Federico Macheda, an Italian striker, made his debut in April 2009. He came off the bench at Old Trafford with the title-chasing Red Devils 2-1 down, only five days after scoring a hat-trick for United's reserves. Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for United before Macheda spun skillfully and fired a stunning last-minute winner in at the far post after receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area with a defender on his back. As United's chances of regaining the Premier League title were revived, euphoric celebrations erupted in front of the Stretford End. Macheda, who stood over 6ft tall and possessed a toughness far beyond his years, scored again in his second league appearance, this time against Sunderland, only 46 seconds after entering the field. But, despite staying at United for another five years, he only managed to score two more professional goals before moving to Cardiff City in 2014. He moved to Panathinaikos in Greece, where he has found his scoring touch with 36 goals in 98 appearances after several years in the second tiers of England and Italy.
5. Nicklas Bendtner
The man, the legend, the myth. Has there ever been a soccer player like Nicklas Bendtner who has succumbed to his own inflated self-esteem? He imagined himself as the Swedish Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the truth is that he isn't quite as good as he thinks. This is a man who once received a perfect score on a confidence test with only a nine-point scale. Bendtner had a few huge games at Arsenal, but he never lit up the place. He would go on loan to Sunderland and Juventus then. He was eventually let go by Arsenal and embarked on a nomadic trip across Europe. He also played for FC iCopenhagen in his home country of Denmark. He wasted away and became a caricature of himself after a tremendous start in life as a professional.
4. Ryan Babel
When Ryan Babel arrived at Liverpool, he was immediately likened to Thierry Henry, but he failed to deliver on that promise. The Dutch forward's confidence suffered as a result of his inability to settle in one position. He had numerous memorable moments, including scoring the game-winning goal against Manchester United. However, after a string of inconsistencies, he was forced to leave the Premier League and faded away.
3. Adnan Januzaj
During David Moyes' ill-fated nine months in charge at Old Trafford, Manchester United fans had little to cheer about. Sir Alex Ferguson's glory years were past, and his hand-picked successor was leading the team to its lowest Premier League finish ever. Despite the pessimism, there was a bright light of optimism in the form of Adnan Januzaj, an 18-year-old offensive midfielder. Januzaj, a talented multi-national prospect embodied what had made Ferguson's successful teams so special: a belief in local talent, a youthful prodigy bursting with the boldness of youth and possessing swaggering brilliance. He made an impressive debut in October 2013, scoring a brilliant brace to rescue a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, and he finished the season as a key figure in Moyes' stuttering side. There were rumors of interest from Europe's elite, with a £40 million (A$75 million) deal from Paris Saint-Germain being turned down. The boy was invaluable. The following season, though, Januzaj began to fade from view, reportedly because new manager Louis van Gaal did not trust him. The player's attitude and application were alleged to have perplexed the Dutch disciplinarian. Januzaj, still only 26, has spent the last four seasons with Real Sociedad in Spain's La Liga, where he is a valued and trusted member of the first-team rotation, but hardly a key player and by no means a guaranteed starter, after fruitless loans with Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland and a whimpering end to his United career.
We recall when he sprang forth like the new South American country's next big thing. Many people predicted that he would grow up to be Lionel Messi. The Brazilian, on the other hand, has played for renowned European clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester City, and AC Milan. Nobody is claiming that Robinho is a complete failure; that would be unfair, but he hasn't lived up to his early promise.
There have been a few Brazilians who have failed to make the influence on the game that they were expected to, but none have been as well-known as Adriano. Due to his monster body, exciting pace, and lethal left foot, he was regarded as a player who may become the world's best forward for years to come during the mid-2000s. He scored seven goals for Brazil in the 2004 Copa America, and he scored 28 goals for Inter Milan in the 2004/05 season. However, as he gained weight and battled depression, his passion to the game eroded, resulting in the premature end of a potential career.
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