The career of a professional footballer can follow many paths. Most top talent is spotted fairly quickly by a top team and they are subsequently signed, with the majority of such players going on to achieve good, if not great, careers.
In some cases, however, initial talent does not follow a player to their new club and they struggle. A move to a huge club can completely destroy a player’s career and they never really recover.
The big sides are so eager to have the competitive edge that occasionally a deal is too good to be true and they simply cut their losses. In some cases, established big-name players can seemingly lose their ability altogether mid-career.
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Here are five examples of players who fell from such grace:
Dmytro Chygrynskiy (Shakhtar Donetsk to Barcelona, 2009)
It’s unlikely that many football fans will remember the Ukrainian simply because of the complexity of his name - mention he played for Barcelona and they might assume it was decades ago.
It wasn’t. The centre-back was signed for around £18 million, but made only twelve league appearances in his only season at Camp Nou.
His performances were extremely shaky and, ultimately, his lack of mental strength proved his downfall. Indeed, following his departure back to Donetsk, Chygrynskiy admitted he was not prepared emotionally for the level of expectation held by fans.
He recently moved to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, his time at one of the biggest clubs in the world a distant memory.
Keirrison (Palmeiras to Barcelona, 2009)
Another Barca flop. At the age of 20, Keirrison had scored 32 goals in 50 appearances for two Brazilian top flight clubs - a decent record. As a result, he got a dream move to La Liga for around £10 million.
However, across a total of five years, he made no league appearances for Barcelona before his contract was terminated last year. Keirrison was loaned out to five different clubs during his time at the Catalonian giants, with some deals very poorly thought through.
His first two loan clubs, Benfica and Fiorentina, advised Barcelona that his game time would be limited due to prioritisation of their own young talent. Keirrison is currently back at his first club, Coritiba.
Robinho (Real Madrid to Manchester City, 2008)
Robinho was not affected by any move in particular, he just fizzled out. The Brazilian has played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, starting at Real Madrid, moving to Manchester City and then AC Milan.
His move to City is perhaps the most well-known and started his decline. An exciting player of undoubted talent, he was signed as a statement of intent by the Abu Dhabi United Group who took over City in 2008.
In a calamitous first interview, Robinho slipped up saying he was pleased to have joined Chelsea, this after City had paid £33 million for him. He never lived up to the price tag, as a result.
Similarly at Milan, he started showing signs of brilliance but soon faded.
He currently plays in China for Guangzhou Evergrande along with compatriot Paulinho - quite a step down.
Alexandre Pato (AC Milan, gradual decline)
Another Brazilian whose career gradually declined. Between 2008 and 2010, Pato was considered one of the best strikers in Europe, but thereafter failed to impress and eventually moved back to his homeland with Corinthians.
He subsequently enjoyed a productive loan spell with Sao Paolo, scoring 17 goals. Still only 26, his fall from the top has been fairly profound and quite likely down to injuries.
He is still linked to the Premier League, but whether he will get the opportunity to relaunch his career in Europe will depend on whether a club is willing to take a risk.
Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Basel to Bayern Munich, 2012)
A player who is at a career crossroads at only 24 years of age, Shaqiri's performances this season for Stoke could determine whether his career fades or re-ignites.
In a three-year period, huge prospect Shaqiri has gone from Bayern Munich; to Inter Milan; to mid-table Potters.
Prior to his big move to Bayern, Shaqiri was one of the top midfield prospects in Europe, tearing apart defences for FC Basel. Following an unsuccessful spell in the Bundesliga and then Serie A, many see his move to Stoke as a huge step down and financially motivated.
Shaqiri needs to demonstrate his capabilities this season or he may find himself fading away as others on this list have.
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