Soccer

What happened to the Premier League’s top wonderkids from Football Manager 2013

Football Manager wonderkids are the players tipped for greatness both in the game and real life, and are often the first young stars any user of the game will look for after taking over at a club.

The tag is given to a player – usually below the age of 20, who may have impressed in the youth team or has already garnered a reputation for being a young talent.

Throughout the years some of the best players in the world have been given the tag, including Paul Pogba, Neymar, Romelu Lukaku, Paulo Dybala and Gianluigi Donnarumma.

But for every player who is labelled a 'wonderkid' and goes on to make it big, there are countless others who fall by the wayside.

Daily Star Sport has looked at the Premier League's top wonderkids from 2013 and noted what happened next.

Manchester United

Sam Johnstone – When Football Manager 2013 was launched, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was just 19 and tipped for stardom. However, he never made it at Old Trafford and was sold to West Brom in 2018 after seven loan spells.

Phil Jones – One of three players on the list to still be at their club from 2013, Phil Jones was signed by United from Blackburn and enjoyed considerable success at the club. He's currently in the midst of a contractual situation and is expected to extend his tenure at Old Trafford.

Tyler Blackett – Big things were expected of Tyler Blackett after he was included in a pre-season squad by Louis van Gaal. The defender failed to capitalise on that brief success, however, and was sold to Reading three years later after playing just 12 times in all competitions. Currently plays for Nottingham Forest.


Nick Powell – Central midfielder Nick Powell joined from Crewe after helping them secure promotion to League One. However, he was never given a proper chance at Old Trafford and played just three league games. Moved to Wigan in 2016 after three loan spells in four years, and is currently starring for Stoke in the Championship.

Mats Daehli – Before Martin Odegaard and Erling Haaland, Mats Daehli was Norway's most promising prospect. The midfielder was formerly in United's youth side, but left for Molde in 2013 to sign pro terms. Currently plays for Nurnberg on loan from Genk.

Ben Pearson – Defensive-midfielder Ben Pearson spent ten years in the United youth team before putting pen to paper on pro terms in 2014. However, with United in a difficult situation at that time in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, he left for Preston before moving to Bournemouth in the previous January transfer window.

Jack Barmby – Quite a few players in this list fell into a rhythm of being loaned out year after year, and Jack Barmby is no different. The Englishman had a loan at Hartlepool before joining Leicester City, where he was loaned out three times before heading to America. After stints at Portland Timbers and San Antonio FC, he joined Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship last year. Currently without a team.

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  • Davide Petrucci – Italian ace Davide Petrucci was listed as a wonderkid in 2011's game, so clearly big things were expected of him at the time. However, despite five years at United he left in 2014 without a senior appearance, and now plays for Italian Serie B team Cosenza.

    Adnan Januzaj – One of the most exciting youngsters to break through the United academy into the first team, Adnan Januzaj was highly rated by Ferguson before being given his chance by David Moyes. For one reason or another, however, it didn't work out for him and he left for Real Sociedad in 2017. Has recently been linked with a return.

    Angelo Henriquez – One of Ferguson's final signings at United, Angelo Henriquez was tipped to be United's next great striker and follow in the footsteps of Robin van Persie. But it never happened for the Chilean, who left for Dinamo Zagreb in 2015 after never playing for United's first team.

    Chelsea

    Thibaut Courtois – Thibaut Courtois is a rare case of a player living up to the hype. The goalkeeper took over the mantle from Petr Cech, and won the Premier League twice. After pining for a move away, he was granted a transfer to Real Madrid, where he is still first-choice.

    Matej Delac – Matej Delac was rated as a wonderkid in 2011, but failed to develop before the 2013 version of the game came out. The goalkeeper had nine loan spells away before leaving for AC Horsens in 2018.

    Nathan Ake – Current Manchester City defender Nathan Ake came through the academy at Chelsea before impressing on loan at AFC Bournemouth. His move to the south coast was made permanent in 2017 and he shone for three years before joining City last summer.

    Andreas Christensen – Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen joined Chelsea's academy in 2012 from Brondby, but had two years out on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach before breaking into the first team under Antonio Conte. Is still a constant feature in the Chelsea side.

    Oriol Romeu – Defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu had success at Chelsea under Andre Villas-Boas after joining from Barcelona, however Roberto Di Matteo didn't give him as many chances, and two loan spells later he joined Southampton in 2015, where he still plays.

    Josh McEachran – Englishman Josh McEachran was highly rated for some time, but failed to make the grade at Stamford Bridge. Spells at Brentford and Birmingham City followed before he joined Milton Keynes Dons earlier this year.

    Lewis Baker – One of the many players to fall into Chelsea's loan farm system, Lewis Baker is still technically at the club but hasn't played for them since an 87th-minute cup appearance in 2014. Is currently on loan at Trabzonspor after seven previous loan spells.


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    Lucas Piazon – Previously Chelsea's longest-serving player, Lucas Piazon spent ten years at Stamford Bridge without playing more than once in the Premier League. Seven loan spells later he joined Braga in January.

    Bertrand Traore – Speedy forward Bertrand Traore came to Chelsea as a youth team player in 2013 and played ten times in the Premier League before leaving for Lyon in 2017. After three years in France he signed for Aston Villa last year.

    Oscar – Once one of Chelsea's key players, Brazilian playmaker Oscar was a key figure for some time at Stamford Bridge. However, he couldn't resist the money on offer from the Chinese Super League, with reports suggesting he became the highest-paid player in the world on £400,000 per-week. He still plays in China for Shanghai SIPG.

    Liverpool

    Samed Yesil – German striker Samed Yesil came to the club from Bayer Leverkusen in 2012 but only made two League Cup appearances before leaving. He currently plays for German level 4 side FC 08 Homburg.

    Danny Wilson – Scottish centre-back Danny Wilson has had an interesting career. After leaving Liverpool in 2013 he signed for Heart of Midlothian, before a three-year stint with Rangers. He then joined Major League Soccer franchise Colorado Rapids, where he still plays.

    Andre Wisdom – Centre-back Andre Wisdom came through the Liverpool academy and made 14 Premier League appearances for the club. He spent four seasons out on loan before joining Derby County in 2017, where he still plays.

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    Jack Robinson – Jack Robinson was previously Liverpool's youngest-ever player to play in a league match after making his debut as a 16-year-old. However, things didn't work out at Anfield and he left for Queens Park Rangers, and is currently at Sheffield United.

    Ryan McLaughlin – Liverpool had quite a few promising defenders in 2013, and Ryan McLaughlin was one of them. The centre-back failed to play for the senior side, however, and was sold to Oldham Athletic in 2016. He currently plays for Rochdale.

    John Flanagan – Another promising defender, John Flanagan has had a bizarre career path to say the least. After making 40 league appearances for the Reds, he was sold to Rangers in 2018, where he played 21 times in the Scottish Premiership. He then moved to Belgian side Charleroi in 2020, but is yet to play for them.

    Jonjo Shelvey – Former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has had a good career, but played his best football away from Anfield. After moving to Swansea City in 2013, he signed for Newcastle in 2016 and has thrived up north.

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    Jordan Lussey – Jordan Lussey has turned into a career journeyman since leaving Anfield. The midfielder fell down the leagues in the aftermath of his exit from Liverpool and is now playing for National League North side AFC Flyde.

    Raheem Sterling – In stark contrast, Raheem Sterling has gone on to become one of Liverpool's best exports. After shining in the 2013-14 season, he was sold to Manchester City, where he continues to be one of Pep Guardiola's key players.

    Jordan Ibe – Teenage wonderkid Jordan Ibe was a phenomenon after shining for Wycombe. After making his professional debut as a 15-year-old, he was tipped for stardom, and is currently at Derby County.

    Arsenal

    Emiliano Martinez – Arsenal fans have been cursing the sale of Emiliano Martinez this season, after the goalkeeper signed for Aston Villa last year. He had six loan spells away from the Emirates before calling for a move away last year.

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    Carl Jenkinson – Right-back Carl Jenkinson became a cult hero at Arsenal after breaking into the first team, but ultimately succeeded elsewhere. After spells at West Ham and Birmingham he joined Nottingham Forest in 2019.

    Emmanuel Frimpong – Perhaps better known for his 'Dench' clothing line, Emmanuel Frimpong was tipped for stardom and was expected to be a key figure for the team. However, after suffering multiple injuries he was sold to Barnsley. However, he's been without a club since leaving Cypriot side Larnaca in 2017.

    Kyle Ebecilio – Dutch midfielder Kyle Ebecilio was signed up by Cypriot side Alki Oroklini in January after a spell as a free agent. Despite signing for Arsenal as a youngster, he left for FC Twente in 2013 to sign as a professional.

    Ryo Miyaichi – Japanese star Ryo Miyaichi only played once in the Premier League for Arsenal before leaving. He had four loan spells away from the Emirates prior to signing for FC St Pauli in 2015.

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    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Unlike Miyaichi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoyed success at Arsenal. The midfielder was a key player for the club before his move to Liverpool in 2018. He has been tipped to leave this summer.

    Jack Wilshere – Just like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere was tipped to be the next big thing in English football. However, injuries seriously derailed his development, and he is currently at AFC Bournemouth.

    Serge Gnabry – Arsene Wenger has often faced criticism for his treatment of young winger Serge Gnabry, who was allowed to leave for West Brom on loan before returning to Germany to sign for Werder Bremen. Three years later he has two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League winners' medal to show for his time at Bayern Munich.

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