Arsenal is one of the rare clubs in the Premier League, where youth players actually get a chance of playing in the first team. Some take the chance, while others don’t. In this post, I am going to discuss those five players that had enormous potential, but completely failed!
When you think about Arsenal youth players, you generally think about Jack Wilshere. He is by far the biggest player that has come through Arsenal youth ranks (all the ranks). “If he had a career that had been injury-free we would already be talking about him as one of the top central midfield players in Europe” said Xavi in a recent interview.
Injured, or not, Wilshere is one of those youth players that actually fulfilled his youth potential (in a way). However, a lot of players had similar potential, but got lost in the process, and disappeared from limelight!
I have decided to dedicate this post to this “stars” that never reached their potentials! They are going to be listed in descending order, from five going to one. Primary elements in this ranking are their potential, and where they ended up. So lets’s start with number five!
5. Quincy Owusu-Abeyie
My favorite youth player at Arsenal was Owusu-Abeyie. Although, he was basically a product of Ajax youth academy, he signed for Arsenal in 2003. He was spotted by Liam Brady, and he really showed some skills.
I mean he had incredible footwork, and fantastic speed. He was very similar to young Cristiano Ronaldo. Both were highly perspective wingers. Frankly, I expected that Owusu-Abeyie would have a similar future to that of Ronaldo. Well, stuff just didn’t work out.
The thing that separated Owusu-Abeyie from Ronaldo was the attitude. Owusu was kicked out of Ajax due to attitued problems. It looked like Wenger transformed this troubled young lad into a real professional, but it just wasn’t the case.
Owusu-Abeyie showed his impatience, when Adebayor arrived to Arsenal, and left for Russia. He made a terrible move, because he hardly played in Russia. A series of loans followed. Owusu-Abeyie went to Celta Vigo, than to Birmingham City, and Cardiff City, and finally to Portsmouth. He didn’t impress in any of the loans.
After permanently leaving Russia. Owusu-Abeyie signed for Al-Sadd, which is a very odd move. He didn’t stay long there, and went on loan to Malaga. He showed some good games there, but left after a season, and signed for Panathinaikos.
Owusu-Abeyie had the most productive TWO years of his career at Panathinaikos, but left for Boavista. He managed to stay at Boavista for just a half of season, before terminating his contract in Fabruary this year. He is 29 years old, and is slowly coming to an end of his professional career as a footballer.
Cristiano Ronaldo became one of the best players in the world. He even got himself his own film (documentary). On the other hand, Owusu-Abeyie has manged to became a below average football player, that played for a lot of different clubs, without ever materializing his potential.
Attitude can make a lot of difference. This shows when comparing Ronaldo and Owusu-Abeyie. Ronaldo “succeeded” while Owusu-Abeyie “failed”. Due to his enormous potential, and the fact that he ended up at a club like Boavista, Owusu-Abeyie ranks as number five of Arsenal youth stars that failed miserably!
4. Craig Eastmond
Eastmond signed for Arsenal in 2002, and presented himself as a very perspective defensive midfield player. He was quick, strong, and excellent in sliding tackles. He was quite similar to Francais Coquelin.
Coquelin, and Eastmond played a couple of years together, before Eastmond left the club in 2013. Comparing the two players, people though that Eastmond would became Arsenal top player, while Coquelin would leave anonymously. Exactly the opposite happened, as Coquelin has became the crucial part of Arsenal midfield.
After Eastmond left Arsenal in 2013, he signed for Colchester United in third English league. It looked like Eastmond found his place, having an impressive first season at the club. Well his second season was a lot worse, and he was released by the club at the end of the season.
Eastmond signed for Yeovill Town in 2015, but was released after only one appearance. Eastwood has (quite literary) disappeared into obscurity, after he left Yeovill Town. He signed for Sutton United in National League South! In other words, Eastmond is playing in sixth tier of English football!?!
Eastmond, who is still 24 years old, basically made an “inverted Vardy”. He went from first league to sixth league in space of two years. Worse than this would probably be a retirement from professional football.
Given that Eastmond had a good future ahead of him, but fell incredibly low, he gets number four on list of Arsenal youth starts that failed miserably!
3. Sanchez Watt
Watt started his Arsenal career, when he was only 7 years old. He showed a lot of promise in his later years at Arsenal. He was quick, and an excellent left footed player, that was (in some instances) compared to Thierry Henry.
He had plenty of loans during his Arsenal career, and people were hopping that a loan might improve his ability to play for Arsenal. Six loans, and nothing happened. Sanchez left Arsenal in 2013, and along with Eastmond signed for Colchester United.
Both he and Eastmond had a great first season at the club, but failed to hold down regular places in their second seasons. Like Eastmond, Watt was released by the club at end of that second season. Unlike Eastmond, who signed for a club in sixth tier of English football, Watt signed for Kerala Blasters in Indian Super League!?!
Playing in an Indian Super League makes sense only if you are very old, and have a strong brand, or you are an Indian. Watt is neither, and has (most likely) made one of the worst decisions ever! Lets not to forget that Watt is only 24 years old.
Something very bad should be made to his agent for engineering such a move. Watt has probably destroyed his professional career, but its also true that he simply wasn’t good enough for clubs in England.
Watt is ranked as number three on Arsenal youth stars that failed miserably, because he wasn’t even good enough for English football, and had to go to India so play some football.
2. Arturo Lupoli
At some point of his career, Lupoli was considered to be the future best Arsenal striker. He was signed in 2004 from Parma, where he scored incredible amount of goals in their youth rank. Lupoli continued his goalscoring form at Arsenal youth team, and got a label of a wonder kid.
Impressive appearances in League Cup got fans excited. He basically looked like the perfect “fox in the box” type of player, scoring goals inside penalty box.
Time went by, and Lupoli wasn’t able to get into Arsenal first team, so he went on loan to Derby. He had an impressive spell there, and decided to quite Arsenal, as his loan ended with Derby. He was signed by Fiorentina, where he again couldn’t break into first team.
He had number of failed loans while at Fiorentina, and as his contract expired with Florence’s club, he moved to Ascoli. He stayed there for two seasons before moving to Grossete, and than Varese. He even went to Hungary, before signing for Frosinone, where he stayed for four months. Recently, Lupoli has signed for club called AC Pisa.
Pisa plays in the third Italian league, which means that Lupoli went from Premier League glitter, to anonymity of Serie C. He supposed to be the next Ian Wright, but ended up as forgotten man, who used to play for Arsenal.
Due to his label as a wonder kid, and the fact that he never really succeeded anywhere, Lupoli gets number two on the list of Arsenal youth starts that failed miserably!
1. Fran Merida
Merida signed for Arsenal in 2005, and soon got a tag as “the next Fabregas”. This was due to his playing position, and the fact, that he also arrived from Barcelona. Big things were expected from him, even bigger than from Fabreags.
Merida, and Barcelona’s Krkic were both recognized as the most perspective players in Europe. Well neither of them relished their potential.
Merida showed impressive performances at Arsenal youth team. He was so impressive that he managed to secure a loan to La Liga at Real Sociedad. He managed to impress in his loan, and he came back at Arsenal as a first team player.
Out of all the players on the list, Merida actually played some important matches for Arsenal. Frankly, no one expected him to leave, because he was slowly getting more and more chances in the Premier League.
Merida was impatient, and couldn’t wait for his regular position, so he left Arsenal, and signed for Atletico Madrid. This looked like a smart move, at the start, but when Atletico fired their manager, Merida career slowly started to go down.
He went on loan to Braga, where he didn’t play much, and left Atletico at the end of that season. Merida signed for Hercules. He again didn’t play much, so he went to Brazil! No one really knows why exactly Brazil, but it was a poor choice. Merida managed to get just six appearances for Atletico Paranaense.
After Brazilian adventure, Merida signed for Huesca, a club in third Spanish league. He finally got a chance to play regular football, and even helped the club to reach second Spanish league. Merida is currently still playing for Huesca, and is featuring in second Spanish league.
Fran Merida had the biggest potential of them all, and although he hasn’t ended up in some semi professional league, he is the biggest failure of Arsenal youth stars. It might have been different, if he would have stayed at Arsenal, but he didn’t. He went and got himself in second Spanish league.
Merida is still 25 years old, but one thinks that he has already missed his chance of playing for a top club. Future is unpredictable, but for now, Fran Merida is number one on the list of Arsenal youth stars that failed miserably!
The biggest Arsenal youth disappointments are Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Craig Eastmond, Sanchez Watt, Arturo Lupoli, and Fran Merida. This were the players that were expected to do great things in professional football, but they did quite little. They were the new Pele’s and Maradona’s but ended up as below average players. This really shows, that a good start isn’t the key for a good career.