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International football

Robinho, Pato, Drenthe, Jesé... the ones who got away

Freddy Adu

One described as the next Pelé, Adu was touted as the brightest talent the US had ever produced. However, after moving to Portugal he became a journeyman and never lived up to that promise.

Photo: Rafael Suanes MLS via Getty Images

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Alexandre Pato

When he arrived at Milan Pato had a couple of decent seasons before gradually fading away and returning to Brazil via China.

Photo: Claudio Villa Getty Images

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Robinho

Supposedly the new Ronaldo / Ronaldinho / Zico, Robinho's famous noctural habits hampered his Real Madrid career. He went on to move to Manchester City and Milan before winding up at İstanbul Başakşehir.

Photo: JUAN MEDINA REUTERS

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Javier Portillo

Considered the natural successor to Raúl González Blanco, Portillo never quite cut it at Madrid and after loans at Fiorentina and Brugge he slipped down the Spanish leagues with Gimnàstic, Osasuna and Hércules.

Photo: Shaun Botterill Getty Images

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Michael Johnson

The next big thing in Englsih football when he burst onto the scene at Manchester City, his career was cut short by a series of injuries.

Photo: Clive Brunskill Getty Images

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Yoann Gourcuff

Nicknamed "Little Zizou" when he moved from Rennes to Milan, Gourcuff never quite managed to reach his full potential despite some wonderful one-off performances. After Italy, he passed through Bordeaux, Lyon, Rennes againa and Dijon and is currently a free agent at 33.

Photo: Shaun Botterill Getty Images

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Royston Drenthe

After emerging out of the Feyenoord academy and signing for Real Madrid great things were expected of Drenthe, who went on to play for Hércules, Everton, Alania Vladikavkaz, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Kayseri Erciyesspor and Baniyas before finding a late career resurgence at Sparta Rotterdam.

Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU AFP

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Sebastian Giovinco

Dubbed the "atomic ant", Giovinco started out at Juve as a bright hope for Italian football but was hampered by injuries. A successful spell in MLS with Toronto followed before he moved to Al-Hilal this summer.

Photo: Valerio Pennicino Getty Images

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Jesé Rodríguez

Under Carlo Ancelotti Jesé briefly touched the heights and would have made Spain's 2014 World Cup squad were it not for a knee injury. He was never the same player again and after a disastrous move to PSG he spent spells on loan with Las Palmas, Stoke and Betis while concentrating on his music career.

Photo: Aurelien Meunier Getty Images

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Federico Macheda

The, ahem, "new Cristiano Ronaldo" never quite reached the level of his countryman and now plies his trade at Novara Calcio in Serie C.

Photo: Matthew Peters Man Utd via Getty Images

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Ravel Morrison

The footballer with nine lives and undoubted skill started out at Manchester United in 2010 before passing through West Ham, Birmingham, QPR, Cardiff, Lazio, QPR again, Atlas and Östersund before rocking up at Sheffield United this summer.

Photo: John Peters Man Utd via Getty Images

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Ganso

A peer of Neymar at Santos, Ganso never quite delivered on his abilty and after ill-fated spells at Sevilla and Amiens he returned to Brazil with Fluminense.

Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER AFP

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El Shaarawy

After making his debut at Genoa aged 16, El Shaarawy moved to Milan before finding his place at Roma and then moving to Shanghai Shenhua.

Photo: MAX ROSSI REUTERS

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Ben Arfa

Ben Arfa enjoyed perhaps the best of his career at Newcastle but never lived up to his early promise, being loaned out to Hull before sitting on PSG's bench for two years. He is now at Rennes.

Photo: LOIC VENANCE AFP

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