Over the years we have had many development players touted as the next Jonathan Woodgate or the next Alan Shearer. As we all know, this has rarely come to fruition and our once envied youth recruitment has slowly come to a halt. Sean Longstaff, Cal Roberts and Dan Barlaser are all outstanding players and have the potential to make a real difference in our team. But I'm sure we can all agree they are a far-cry from the Gazza's, Howey's or Beardsley's of yesterday.
Here's a few players from recent memory who had high hopes but were later sold or released:
Once compared to the likes of Michael Owen (Not the crocked version), Campbell started his career promisingly by becoming the youngest ever player to appear for NUFC in a European competition. After his sub appearance against Atromitos in 2012, United decided to keep him as first team backup for the 2012/13 season. This proved costly for Campbell's career as he made all of his appearances from the bench that season, with Papiss Cisse's memorable scoring run keeping him out of the side. He then spent the next few years at our usual loan destinations - Gateshead, Carlisle and Hartlepool to name a few - and then was sold to Notts County in 2015.
Like his loan moves, he failed to prove he had the quality for lower EFL divisions, let alone the premier league, and was subsequestly sold on to Morecombe 2 years later. He is now back at Carlisle on loan. Anyone who played the computer game 'Football Manager' would have been disappointed at how this 'wonder-kid's' career progressed in reality. Not exactly 'one that got away', in my opinion.
A name many might remember but someone who wasn't lauded with comparisons to world class players. Maddison came through the ranks at Newcastle before his release in 2013 with, the then reserve coach, Willie Donachie suggesting to the Chronicle he "had a lot to learn". St Johnstone snapped him up but he made no appearances before signing for Peterborough United in August 2014.
This is where Marcus' career really took off! Take at look at his stats:
They're canny stats for the Durham born play-maker, who is yet to have his 25th birthday. Albeit in League 1, he's rated as one of the best assist-makers outside of the top two divisions.
With our No.10 position constantly questioned in regards of quality, creativity and depth, do you think Maddison could have played a part in our squad today?
Bigirimana made a heartwarming introduction to English football by successfully begging at Coventry City's training ground for a trial, eventually signing for the club in 2011. He went on to win the 'championship apprentice of the year award' in 2012 before being snapped up for an undisclosed fee by Newcastle United. Lovingly known as the Mini-Tiote, after the late and great Cheick Tiote, he spent four years on Tyneside with one and half out on loan. He started off playing very promisingly making his debut in the Europa League, like Campbell, against Atromitis and scoring his first professional goal in a 3-0 win against Wigan Athletic, 3rd December 2012.
He soon found himself out of favour and was subsequently loaned out to Rangers and Coventry, before cancelling his contract with Newcastle and signing for Coventry permanently on a one year deal in 2016/17. He played and won the EFL Trophy final with Coventry against Wycombe scoring the first goal, before signing for SPL side Motherwell in June 2017.
Here are his stats since:
At 24, Bigirimana has developed into a decent player and it looks like he has another promising season ahead. Is he a squad player that got away or another player not good enough for the EPL?
More to come and suggestions more than welcome - Either comment below or Tweet me @WillRichardson7.
Thanks for reading.