Five Premier League Wonderkid’s Who Failed To Make The Grade


Since Marcus Rashford scored four goals in as many days for Manchester United last week, speculation has been growing about him being the next big thing.

He’s reportedly set to be offered a new deal with wages around £15,000-a-week, just days after completing an A-level Chemistry exam, while bookies have even slashed the odds on him making the England Euro 2016 squad.

Rashford was exactly the same age as Wayne Rooney when he scored his first Premier League brace, but for every talented youngster that goes on to enjoy Rooney’s level of success, there’s another few who failed to live up to initial expectations.

We’ve compiled a list of five promising talents who fell by the wayside:

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Federico Macheda

Everyone remembers when Italian teenager Macheda scored a famous winner for Man United against Aston Villa back in 2009.

Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler nearly had a trouser crisis as he screamed Macheda’s name, when his curled shot flew past Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The media went crazy for the former Lazio youth star, touting him as the next great Man Utd striker and when he scored 46 seconds after coming on as a substitute against Sunderland, the hype hit new levels.

But that was as good as it ever got for Macheda, who netted just two more goals for United before being loaned out to Italian side Sampdoria. The striker scored once – in a cup game – as Samp were relegated to Serie B.

Sir Alex Ferguson tried to use the loan market to fulfil Macheda’s potential but after unsuccessful spells at QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham, the striker was eventually released and joined Cardiff City.

And that’s where he remains today. To date, he’s made eight appearances this season and has failed to score, cementing his reputation as a total flop.

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James Vaughan

Former Everton striker James Vaughan remains the Premier League’s youngest ever scorer, at just 16 years and 270 days old.

When that strike against Crystal Palace went in, the Toffees thought they’d struck gold again, just three years after watching Wayne Rooney score against Arsenal on his debut before going on to become one of the Premier League’s best ever strikers.

Vaughan couldn’t build on his good start to life in the top flight though, scoring just six more goals before eventually being sold to Norwich City in 2011.

That didn’t work out and after just five games in an injury hit spell for the Canaries, Vaughan joined Huddersfield Town. The injuries surpassed and Vaughan netted 31 times for the Terriers before again being loaned, this time to fellow Championship side Birmingham City.

Since arriving at St. Andrews, Vaughan hasn’t scored and remains distinctly a Championship level striker, despite once appearing to possess the talent to play higher.

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Matthew Briggs


Now plying his trade at Colchester United in League One, Briggs still holds the record for being the youngest ever player in the Premier League, at 16 years and 65 days.

The once promising left back made his bow while playing for Fulham back in 2007, replacing everyone’s favourite German, Moritz Volz, to break James Milner’s record.

Like many youngsters, Briggs was then loaned to a series of lower league clubs before finally signing for Millwall in 2014. The Lions then loaned him to Colchester, where he penned a full time deal and has remained ever since.

Briggs was also a regular in the England youth system, representing the country of his birth at under 16, 17, 19, 20 and 21 levels before switching allegiance and winning an international cap with Guyana last year.

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Jose Baxter

Another who finds himself in League One, Jose Baxter was another Everton youth product that never made it.

Baxter remains the Premier League’s youngest ever starter, after being selected by David Moyes against West Brom in 2008, but never looked like making the grade at the highest level.

He ended up making just seven appearances for his hometown club, before joining Oldham Athletic after a loan spell at Tranmere.

Now chasing promotion at Sheffield United, Baxter seems to have found his level.

And it’s not the Premier League.

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Giuseppe Rossi

Undoubtedly the most successful on this list, Rossi makes the cut because he could have easily been one of the world’s best strikers.

Since making his debut for Man United aged 17, the New Jersey born striker looked like a promising talent, but he was judged to be too lightweight for the Premier League and subsequently joined Villareal, where he started to live up to his potential.

Scoring goals for fun in La Liga, Rossi’s career was heading in the right direction, before a challenge with Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso started the Italy international’s injury nightmare.

Since that clash, Rossi’s fortunes have been ruined by the same reoccurring knee injury – one that has deprived him of nearly three years of his career.

It’s perhaps harsh to call him a failure but ultimately, he could have been better in the Premier League and after proving his talent elsewhere, it’s a disappointment.