FM14 Wonderkids: Where are they now?

Let us cast our minds back to the 2013/14 season for football. Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning the premier league before THAT slip. Ronaldo scored an amazing 17 goals in the Champions League as Real Madrid celebrated La Decima and Lewandowski moved to rivals Bayern from Dortmund on a free transfer.

If you were an avid football manager player you would typically see the more well-known players initially such as Messi, Iniesta and others of this level and aim to get youth players who could either match or even top these standards. However, whilst some of these players who were predicted to dominate the world football scene have done so such as Pogba and Neymar, others have fallen rather flat and their careers have either stalled or stopped.

The player who had the highest potential ability on the game and thus who was seen as the best chance to become a star in the future was Donis Avdijaj of Schalke. He was 16 at the time of the game coming out and by the age of 23 he would regularly be winning Ballon D’ors and then either making your team amazing if you signed him, or single handedly destroying your team of now dejected stars. As seen from his stats from one person’s save, the fact he has 18, 15 or above statistics shows how highly he was rated and when you consider the fact this included determination, natural fitness and also concentration it showed a lot of hope for the German starlet. DTG_advijajFast forward this to 2018 and Avdijaj can be found on loan to Roda JC in the Eredivisie following 12 games for the first team in which he scored twice in 2014. He was then sent out on loan to Sturm Graz from 2014/16 where he played 45 times and scored 13. During this time he also changed his nationality from German to Albanian in October 2014 and then from Albanian to the newly recognised nation of Kosovo which he has played for twice since switching allegiance. Avdijaj is now 21 and whilst his career doesn’t look to reach the dizzying heights it was able to on football manager 14, he is clearly still rated highly and has a potential of 5* on the Sortitout database. So all hope is not yet lost for his career unlike the next ‘wonderkid’.

Aaron Leya Iseka is a Belgian born forward who in Football manager 2014 was playing for Anderlecht at the age of 16 and was valued at around 10k at the start of the game.  Anderlecht valued him at more than this so it meant it took around 1.2 million to prise him from them at the start. However this was repaid very quickly with his value soaring up to the previous £65 million limit at the age of 23. His brother also during Football Manager 2014 had a high potential and is slightly more well-known, current Chelsea and Dortmund player Michy Batshuayi. In FM`14 they both had a potentially of -9 (150-180) and so were both tipped to be stars in the top divisions.DTG_ALI

Unlike Donis Avdijaj however Aaron Leya Iseka hasn’t changed his nationality but was also sent out on loan. From 2014-16, he played 12 times for Anderlecht but was unable to score, then Marseille took interest in him a month after his brother left for Chelsea. However Aaron was unable to replicate his brother’s feats for Marseille and was only given 8 appearances in which he was yet again unable to score. Currently he is on loan to Zulte Waregem also in the Belgian First division, since signing for them on loan he has scored 5 times in 15 games which currently is a good return in comparison to previous exploits. He is currently at a 4* potential on Sortitout for Zulte Waregem so whilst there is potential to do well, he has a long way to go.

Moving on to a player with an initial value of around 200k and a wage of £80 was a 15-year-old called Ryan Ledson. Ryan had a successful international career for his younger years and even captained the under 17 side at 15 for the UEFA European Under-17 tournament and was touted as ‘unbeatable’ after he was voted into the 2014 European Under 17 team of the tournament. In FM he was a consistent pick up for League 1 teams on loan and by the age of 21 he would be a frequent player for Everton or other teams of that standard. In the game he had a potential ability of -9 which signifies a player likely to succeed in the Premier League or become world-class (As Aaron Leya Iseka was) yet in reality it hasn’t gone all as expected for Ryan Ledson. DTG_LEDSOn

Currently he is a first team player for Oxford United in League One and was voted young player of the month in February 2017. He was subject to intense interest from clubs such as Preston North End who are interested in having him become a long-term stalwart and probable captain. He was also expected to go the World Cup for U20’s which England won but an injury prevented his call up. There is a lot of potential to do well providing he keeps up the drive he has and wanting to play first team football in higher divisions.

Another player who in 2014 was bursting onto the world-wide footballing scene and was tipped for the stars was Adnan Januzaj, the previous prodigy of: Belgian, English, Albanian, Turkish, Serbian and Kosovan football. At one point all of these countries were scrambling over each other to try to acquire Adnan to join their national fold and become a star for potentially near two decades which was expected when he was first making a name for himself. In 2014 after a 2-1 win over Sunderland, David Moyes confirmed that the English FA were making steps to secure him for the national side. This looked promising considering he had just rejected Belgium’s advances as an 18yr old when they attempted to call him up in place of the injured Kompany. In FM14 he was an 18yr old with a Value of £16 million but an expected cost of £57 million and for good reason, he had a current ability of 145 which was a starter for the top Premier League teams and a potential ability of -10, this was a potential ability of 180-200. For reference Messi had a PA of 198 and Buffon at his prime 197. Adnan Januzaj was predicted to potentially reach this and he was rated as the same ability or better than the following: Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma, Marco Verrati, Alvaro Morato and Paul Pogba. Let that sink in, a player who couldn’t cut it at Sunderland, was predicted to be better than one of the best midfielders in the world. He was often able to play for Manchester United from 2013-15 and in 2014 was even given Ryan Giggs previous number of 11 which does show how highly regarded he was by David Moyes. He was even able to play for Belgium who he eventually decided to align his nationality to 6 times in 2014. Then when Van Gaal arrived at United he was phased out of the team and given limited chances and from there he never fully recovered both domestically and internationally. He is currently playing for Real Sociedad (The third team Moyes has managed that Januzaj has played for) and has scored twice out of 12 appearances. What once looked like potentially a new legend in the making has dissipated and now looks like a case of what could have been.



From the following players it may seem like Football Manager 14 got it all wrong when predicting those who were expected to go on and become world beaters. In actual fact it managed to predict the rise of players such as Jack Butland, Marquinhos and Rafinha.  Yet whilst this particular edition of the game may be less star-studded currently than that of the golden FM 05 generation where players such Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and even Wesley Sneijder were all predicted correctly to go on to stardom, there was also players such as Freddy Adu who despite initial promise has like the players from FM 14, tragically fallen into the footballing oblivion.

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