This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
The Sun is reporting that Liverpool have stolen a march on Chelsea for Ben Chrisene by inviting him to Kirkby.
The 15-year-old became Exeter City’s youngest-ever player by appearing against Coventry City in the League Cup in August.
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The Blues and the Reds are both interested in the teenager, but it appears the latter have moved ahead in the race to sign him. They have invited him to Kirkby to appear for the club’s youth team, and the Grecians are said to be happy to co-operate as long as they receive a decent sum in exchange should a transfer be completed.
Whenever a youngster starts to make headlines, such as Chrisene, you can be sure that some of the biggest clubs both in the Premier League and abroad will be circling like vultures in an attempt to add them to their squads. They rarely cost a fortune, meaning there is little risk if they don’t work out.
However, for the players themselves, there are often struggles in adapting. In recent times, one of the best examples is that of former Tranmere Rovers starlet Dale Jennings. As an 18-year-old, he signed for the Bavarian giants for a fee of £600,000 in a scarcely believable transfer.
To say it didn’t go to plan would be an understatement. He failed to make a single appearance for the club’s first team, and eventually moved to Barnsley. Now 26, he appears in the North West Counties Football League for Runcorn Town FC.
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John Bostock was another that failed to live up to huge expectations. After becoming Crystal Palace’s youngest-ever player in 2007, he moved to Tottenham in 2008 in a move that caused controversy. Although he still plays in the second tier of English football with Nottingham Forest, his career has seen him appear for 13 different clubs despite being just 27 years old.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the “where are they now?” question is Freddy Adu. He became the youngest-ever player to sign an MLS contract aged 14, and joined Portuguese giants Benfica in 2007 as an 18-year-old. He now appears for Las Vegas Lights in the second tier of the US footballing pyramid.
In all of these cases, it would have surely benefited those in question to stay a little longer with their clubs before making big moves to outfits that are years ahead in terms of professionalism. Now, they will always be remembered as players who failed to live up to the expectations put on their shoulders.
At such a young age, Chrisene should be wary of leaving St. James’ Park just yet – regardless of the fact Liverpool and Chelsea have come calling.