Two ex-Arsenal wonderkids find their careers on the scrapheap

Former Arsenal starlets Jermaine Pennant and David Bentley have both been released by their clubs.

This January marked 10 years to the month that David Bentley made his debut for Arsenal, coming on as a substitute in an FA Cup win over Oxford.

Months later, Jermaine Pennant would show signs he was ready to fulfill the potential which saw Arsenal make him Britain's most expensive teenager in 1999, paying £2 million to Notts County.

It was May 2003 when Pennant seized an opportunity in an end of season game against Southampton, hitting a devastating hattrick in a 6-1 win on his Premier League debut.

For Pennant that was as good as it got for Arsenal, while Bentley would score his only goal for the Gunners in an FA Cup win a year after his debut in 2004.

Fast forward all the way to 2013 and both players find their careers on the scrapheap, wondering where it all went wrong.

Jermaine Pennant was released by Stoke City today along with David Bentley's departure from Tottenham also confirmed.

Neither come as a particular surprise but to see both of their careers reach a crossroad at the same point highlights the way neither of them have reached the heights they would aspire to.

It could well be argued that both players only have themselves to blame, with attitude problems and believing they had 'made it' at Arsenal before they had really proved anything on the pitch giving them a sense of entitlement which led to them leaving the club due to impatience.

Bentley handed the Gunners a transfer request in 2005, a month after Pennant clinched a permanent move to Birmingham after loan spells at the club along with Leeds, and Watford.

In the midst of this his career literally went off road, with a conviction for drink driving leading to him spending three months in prison. Arsenal were still able to acquire a fee close to £3 million in his sale.

Bentley signed for Blackburn and began to show just why he was so highly rated, going onto win Player of the Year awards at the club and hitting his memorable hattrick over Manchester United.

His mistake was believing his own hype which saw him touted as the 'next Beckham', and Tottenham paid a staggering £15 million for his services in 2008.

Meanwhile Pennant had convinced Liverpool to take a chance on him, a gamble which culminated in the winger playing in the 2007 Champions League Final and posing a dangerous threat to AC Milan in a 2-1 loss.

That remains understandably his career highlight, but Rafa Benitez had no problem letting him go to Real Zaragoza two years later where he spent another controversial year before returning to the Premier League with Stoke.

Even this season he lost his place and ended up on loan to Wolves, while for Bentley who had become ostracised at Tottenham after a failure to live up his big fee, ended up on loan to obscure Russia outfit FC Rostov, before heading back to Blackburn on loan.

Neither club are likely to miss them, and Arsenal will feel they are well rid of the pair who they let go eight seasons ago. Their examples should serve as a testament to other young players who are impatient at a top club and try to force their way.

As to where both players will end up next, Bentley, 28, and Pennant, 30, have plenty of football left ahead of them and we wouldn't rule out a return to the Premier League - but their prospects of fulfilling their potential appears to have passed them by for good.

Bentley and Pennant - Where did it all go wrong?

image: © wonker

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