7 Former Football Manager Wonderkids: Where Are They Now?

 
 
Belgian international football defender Anthony Vanden Borre (C) poses with his new club's jersey, the congolese club Tout Puissant Mazembe (Almighty Mazembe) on March 2, 2017 in Brussels.

Football Manager 2019 Beta has been available for a while now, and the full game comes out in just a few days. Wow, Sports Interactive really ought to be paying me for this kind of promotion, or at least have given me a free copy.

Anyway, I’ve seen a few requests for this video or similar ideas, and it seemed like a good time to do it. We’re going to take a look at a variety of youth prospects, typically 16, 17 and 18-year-old’s, who were predicted to be future legends of the game by Football Manager. Some who have done brilliantly, some not so brilliantly, and some you may never have heard of.

We should point out that we’re just looking at the Football Manager series, so Championship Manager legend Cherno Samba does not feature.

Here are 7 former Football Manager wonderkids: Where are they now?

7. Anthony Vanden Borre - Free Agent

Having made his international debut at the age of 16, Anthony Vanden Borre would be the elder statesman of Belgium’s Golden Generation possibly guiding them to World Cup glory had he stayed true to his Football Manager 2007 potential. Vanden Borre came through the youth ranks at Anderlecht as a right-back alongside Vincent Kompany, and he was the more highly regarded of the two at the time.

Whilst Kompany has gone on to become a three-time Premier League winning club captain, Vanden Borre’s greatest claim to fame is being the sending off that Chris Kamara famously missed whilst covering Portsmouth vs Blackburn for Gillette Soccer Saturday. Okay, that’s probably a bit harsh, but Vanden Borre hasn’t come anywhere near his FM07 world class potential. Aged 31, he is currently a free agent, most recently having played for Mazembe in the Congo.

6. Henri Saivet - Bursaspor

Henri Saivet of Newcastle United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Newcastle United on January 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.Henri Saivet of Newcastle United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Newcastle United on January 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.

The player in this seven who brings back the fondest memories for me, having been a genius when I picked him up on Football Manager 2008, back when I used to binge the game and before I spent my entire life making YouTube videos, Henri Saivet was a bonafide potential Ballon d’Or winner. Capable of playing on either flank or through the middle, Saivet became stupendously quick, incredible on the ball and tediously clinical in front of goal.

He was probably the most guaranteed future star on FM08, despite not yet having broken into the Bordeaux first team. He had scored 8 goals in 15 games for France’s U16’s and 9 in 21 for their U17’s, in SI’s defence, but his extraordinary potential was probably a tad premature. Saivet now plays his international football for Senegal, where he has scored once in 22 caps and failed to make the countries 2018 World Cup squad.

At club level, Saivet did become a regular for Bordeaux, before signing for Newcastle United in 2016. Magpies fans who expected the Saivet of FM08 would be in for a disappointment though, and the now 27-year-old is currently in his third loan move away from St James’ Park, playing for Bursaspor in Turkey.

5. Sergio Aguero - Manchester City

The best player in this seven, if anything, Sergio Aguero has gone beyond his Football Manager 2006 potential. The Argentine was handed wonderkid status on FM06, off the back of an 18 goal season in Argentina, a national team debut and a big money move to Atletico Madrid, all during a year in which he turned 18.

Aguero’s first season with Atletico wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring, the teenager bagging 7 goals in 42 games. His second campaign was phenomenal though, a tally of 27 goals in 50 games seeing him named as the best foreign player in La Liga for the 2007-08 season, as well as winning Olympic Gold with Argentina later that year.

After five years in Madrid, Aguero was signed by free-spending Man City for £35 million. He has proved to be an absolute bargain. 208 goals in 304 games for the Citizens makes Aguero the club’s all time leading goal scorer, as well as giving him the best goals to minute ratio in Premier League history. So SI was right to give an 18-year-old Aguero such huge potential.

4. Lulinha - Pafos

SC Braga´s midfielder from Argentina Andres Madrid (R) vies with Olhanense´s brazilian midfielder Luis dos Reiss 'Lulinha' (L) during their portuguese super league football match at the...SC Braga´s midfielder from Argentina Andres Madrid (R) vies with Olhanense´s brazilian midfielder Luis dos Reiss 'Lulinha' (L) during their portuguese super league football match at the...

The second Football Manager 2008 prospect in this seven, there used to always be a handful of Brazilian teenage sensations on the game. Lulinha would be a brilliant purchase for any club from Corinthians if you managed to get a work permit, and it’s easy to see why FM ranked him so highly. He scored 16 goals in 16 games for Brazil’s under-17’s, prompting Corinthians to slap a 35 million euro price tag on his head.

In game, Lulinha developed into a classical Brazilian attacking midfielder, with excellent stats for creativity, dribbling, technique, pace, long shots and even work rate. He needed nurturing if you wanted a Ballon d’Or winner on your hands, but even Iain Dowie could turn this lad into a player in the mould of say a current Philippe Coutinho.

Fast forward a decade, and Lulinha’s career has really just petered out. He stayed with Corinthians until 2012, but his game time decreased as the years went by. Lulinha was never capped by Brazil above U17 level, and he’s now become something of a journeyman. Having bounced from one club to another in Brazil, he moved to South Korea in 2016 and the United Arab Emirates in 2018. Now aged 28, he’s currently playing for Pafos in Cyprus, although we’ve one or two doubts about his supposed 10 goals in 0 games as Wikipedia claims he’s managed.

3. Adryan - Sion

Another Brazilian and another attacking midfielder in third place, this time it’s FM13 star Adryan. The former wonderkid first made a name for himself at the 2011 South American U-17 Championships, and he was capped by Brazil at U-20 level following 8 goals in 14 appearances from midfield for the U-17’s.

He broke into Flamengo’s starting XI the following season, racking up 25 first team appearances in 2012, leading Football Manager to make him a future star on FM13.

The youngsters passing, technique and creativity stats were all capable of maxing out at 20, making him a world class playmaker, even if he contributed about as much defensively as Hatem Ben Arfa.

In real life, Adryan was contracted to Flamengo right up until 2017, going out on-loan to Italy, England and France. His time in England was spent with Leeds United, but in a stint best remembered for a dreadful dive against Norwich City, Massimo Cellino didn’t exercise the club’s option to sign him permanently for £3 million.

The 24-year-old does look to have breathed new life into his career in Switzerland since 2017 though, where he scored 7 goals in 18 games for Sion last season.

2. Khouma Babacar - Sassuolo

Khouma Babacar of US Sassuolo celebrates his goal during the serie A match between US Sassuolo and Genoa CFC at Mapei Stadium - Citta' del Tricolore on September 2, 2018 in Reggio nell'...Khouma Babacar of US Sassuolo celebrates his goal during the serie A match between US Sassuolo and Genoa CFC at Mapei Stadium - Citta' del Tricolore on September 2, 2018 in Reggio nell'...

In case you were worrying that Football Manager wonderkids either become one of the best players in the world like Sergio Aguero or virtual nobodies like Lulinha, we have included a player who falls somewhere in between those two.

Fiorentina have had a few wonderkids on Football Manager, but perhaps none finer than Khouma Babacar on FM10. The powerful young Senegalese forward had the potential to reach close to 20 for his finishing, heading, acceleration, composure, anticipation, jumping and off the ball work, and would often hit 20 for his strength.

That made him a goal scoring machine. Babacar typically became something akin to a more prolific version of Didier Drogba, and he would almost always rank among the top two or three centre-forwards in the world.

In real life, Babacar struggled to make an impression in Florence as a teenager, before loan moves in both Spain and Italy. He returned to his parent club a greatly improved footballer and a semi-regular scorer, before signing permanently for Sassuolo in January 2018, where he has since scored 4 goals in 17 Serie A games.

1. Carlos Fierro - Morelia

There have been a fair few Mexican wonderkids on Football Manager over the years, and very few seem to come good on their potential. The one that lives longest in the memory of FM12 players has to be Carlos Fierro though, a striker who was capable of reaching Messi-Ronaldo levels of goal scoring at the highest level.

Fierro had impressed at the 2011 U17 World Cup, and although his stats didn’t become too mind-blowing, his numbers were very consistent. He developed great speed, skill, finishing and work rate, and anything under 30 goals in a season following his 23rd birthday would be a disappointment. Fierro proved especially appealing since you could usually pick him up for a reasonable price and not even whilst managing one of the big boys provided you could secure a work permit.

In real life, the now 24-year-old has failed to score more than 3 league goals in a single season, nevermind 30. He left Guadalajara with a record of 20 goals from 198 appearances in 2017, joining Cruz Azul, and he is currently on-loan with Morelia in Liga MX, now playing as a right winger rather than as a striker.

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