To be labelled as one of football’s wonderkids, a young player must show some serious talent.
Only some the best youngsters in Europe have been given this label in the past, and it’s one thing gaining the reputation, but another to fulfill it.
The likes of Wayne Rooney, Neymar, Gareth Bale and of course, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were once given this label. All of those grew into being some of the world’s best.
However, there were a few that struggled with the pressure. Alexandre Pato, Ravel Morrison and Freddy Adu all failed to live up to their reputations and they all act as a cautionary tale for the current crop of wonderkids.
Most of the big clubs across Europe claim to have a young star or two that will grow into one of the greatest ever.
Real Madrid have Marco Asensio, who’s impressing at the U21 European Championships, while in England Manchester United claim both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will one day lead their prestigious line.
Then there’s AS Monaco and Borussia Dortmund. The French side impressed football fans across the continent last season when they found huge success with such a young squad.
Striker Kylian Mbappe drove Monaco to the Champions League semi-finals stage, as well as the Ligue 1 title. He was backed up by the equally impressive Tiemoue Bakayoko and Fabinho behind him.
German side Dortmund though, have a player tipped for even bigger things. That’s 20-year-old Ousmane Dembele.
He’s been linked with both Chelsea and United and even recently, Barcelona. No pressure, kid.
One player who was never quite given the title of a wonderkid though was Paul Pogba. He never impressed Sir Alex Ferguson enough during his time at Old Trafford and was moved to Juventus.
There, he gained a reputation as one of the world’s best midfielders and returned to Manchester four years after he’d left, for a world record fee of over £89 million.
And while on international duty, he had some advice for two of France’s hottest prospects, Mbappe and Dembele.
He told Telefoot, as per Goal: “The young players like Mbappe and Dembele are very talented. I’ve never seen this, young players imposing themselves like that, being relaxed like that.”
“Mbappe and Dembele have the future before them, they must be serious. They’re kids, young people who have a brain. I wish them the best, also with France.”
At such young ages, it’s easy for both players to make mistakes, both on the pitch and off of it. Football fans will be hoping that they take Pogba’s advice, and work harder for even brighter futures.