It can always be difficult to predict the trajectory of young players in football.
Some teenagers look to have the world at their feet at an early age, only to fail to fulfill their potential.
A perfect example of this would be America’s Freddy Adu. He was tipped to become a superstar but, at the age of 28, is currently without a club with him last representing Tampa Bay Rowdies in his native country.
That’s why it’s so difficult for football scouts when identifying a young talent.
You often hear of clubs signing a highly-rated teenager only to never hear of them again as they play in the youth teams for several years before being offloaded.
A prime example of this happened in 2011 when Liverpool signed a player dubbed the ‘next Gareth Bale.’
The Reds snapped up 15-year-old Irishman Alex O’Hanlon from Dublin-based St Kevin’s Boys’ Club, beating the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal who all approached him. He even spent time at both Chelsea and Real Madrid before choosing Liverpool.
After signing, the secretary of the Irish club believed that O’Hanlon was set to become a world-class player.
“He is very highly thought of. He’s an excellent full-back and hopefully he might turn out like Gareth Bale,” Brendan Bermingham said.
“He’s got a really good attitude, quiet and unassuming. He’s just football, football, football.”
And it was believed the lure of playing under then manager Kenny Dalglish made O’Hanlon reject some massive clubs in favour of Liverpool.
A source said O’Hanlon "chose Liverpool because he wanted to work under Dalglish and because the club felt more right than any of the others.
"Liverpool showed him and his family the most respect. He's come here because he believes Liverpool are a massive club on the verge of great things.”
What happened to him?
While Liverpool haven’t exactly achieved “great things” since O’Hanlon joined - winning just a solitary League Cup - things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the player himself.
That’s because in the five years he spent at Liverpool he failed to make an appearance and, back in January of this year, he returned to Ireland to sign for St Patrick's Athletic.
He also had failed trails at Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield after his contract at Anfield expired.
While he’s still only 21, it’s looking as though O’Hanlon certainly wasn’t the ‘next Gareth Bale.’
Of course, he’s still got plenty of years to show exactly why numerous top clubs around Europe wanted him but he’s going to have to do it the hard way.
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