Man Utd wonderkids like Federico Macheda and Darron Gibson failed to live up to the hype – here’s where they are all now – The Sun

FOR every Ryan Giggs and Marcus Rashford there's a Ben Thornley or Federico Macheda.

Manchester United have been renowned for producing first class talent that's graced the Premier League over the years.

But here's a cautionary tale.

In the summer, former youth star Darron Gibson, once described by Sir Alex Ferguson as 'the new Scholes', was let go by League Two side Salford.

It just goes to show that they don't always go on to make the grade and set Old Trafford alight.

As well as Gibson, these seven were potential stars at United, but they were soon out the door when they couldn't cut it.


Championship Manager 2000 players will remember the Danish forward well.

In that game he would go onto superstardom, but in real life it didn't get much better than mediocrity.

Plucked from Odense's youth team, he signed a professional contract in 2002 after impressing in United's academy.


The Italian forward announced himself in the most speculation fashion, scoring the winner with seconds left on the clock in a 3-2 win over Aston Villa in 2009.

But it was something of an anti-climax for Macheda, who Fergie once hailed as the best natural finisher in a squad that also had the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov.

Due to injury problems and poor form, his career hit the skids and spells at Sampdoria, QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Nottingham Forest saw him slip further down the football ladder.

A lowpoint came when a trial at Serie B side Bari failed to earn him a contract, and he then joined lowly Novara Calcio.

However, since 2018 things seem to have picked up for Macheda who is thriving in Greek football with Panathinaikos.

He has found his scoring boots again and bagged 33 times in 90 league games. Amazingly, he's only still 30



The great hope of Chinese football, Fangzhuo's demise should be a warning to all youngsters.

Brought to England in 2004 for a fee that could've risen to £3.5m, Fergie called him an 'explosive talent' and believed he had the 'speed and physicality' to be a hit in the Premier League.

Because he was unable to get a work permit, Fangzhou went to United feeder club Royal Antwerp and was a hit in Belgium.

But when he finally got a visa to play in England, the language barrier proved to be a big obstacle. That, coupled with a crippling shyness, made it impossible for him to succeed at the Theatre of Dreams.

In 2008 his contract at Man Utd was terminated and he failed to live up to his promise when he returned to play in China.

Most recently, Fangzhuo's fall from grace was complete when he appeared on a Chinese reality TV series to have plastic surgery on his overweight face after years of hard partying.


A man born with a footballer's name, but alas disappeared into complete obscurity.

Spotted by United's scouting network playing for Internacional, the world was Possebon's oyster when he was signed in 2008. But in a game against Middlesbrough in the League Cup he suffered a bad injury after a reckless tackle by Emanuel Pogatetz that almost broke his leg.

He was ruled out for a couple of months and never really gained momentum to push for a first team place, making only three appearances in the end in a short-lived career at the Premier League giants.

He went to Braga on loan before returning back to Brazil with Santos, but failed to hit the ground running there too.

Possebon, 32, was last seen plying his trade in Vietnamese football for Ho Chi Minh City, before they terminated his contract for failing to impress.


The Chilean forward was so highly-rated by Man Utd scouts he was signed as a 15-year-old for a fee believed to be in the region of £4m in 2009.

He spent the next few seasons at Universidad de Chile, where he showed his promise netting 11 times in 17 games.

Henriquez arrived in Manchester in 2012 with much fanfare, and excelled in their reserves side. Realising his path to the first team was blocked, the United hierarchy loaned the 'new Marcelo Salas' to Wigan a year later.

He scored on his Premier League debut, and ended the season with an FA Cup winners medal.

A year later another loan materialised, playing for Real Zaragoza in Spain's second division. That didn't go so well, but Henriquez found his feet playing on loan in Croatia for Dinamo Zagreb in 2014 when he scored 30 goals in 37 games in all competitions.

They made the move permanent for him in 2015, but the goals dried up and he headed to Universidad de Chile in 2018 and recently joined Brazilian side Fortaleza Esporte.


In truth it was Sunderland who brought Bellion to our shores in 2001 when he was a teenager after he starred for the Cannes youth team.

But United pounced when he was 20 years old with the belief they could make him the next Thierry Henry. His greatest asset was his pace, so it's no surprise he won the 60 metres sprint 2001 National Indoor Youth Championships.

However, on the football pitch it didn't quite go to plan for the lightning-quick striker. A lack of action saw Bellion embark on loans at West Ham and Nice, before he returned back to France.

Bordeaux saw his best years from 2007-14, where he scored 20 goals in 114 games. He wrapped up his career at lower-league French side Red Star before retiring in 2016.

And he was most recently found as a fashion-football mogul, advising stars such as Tiemoue Bakayoko on their style while operating as Red Star's creative director.


More a case of misfortune than wasted talent. Thornley was one of Fergie's Fledglings, and was touted the finest of a generation that included Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

A quick and tricky left-winger, Thornley helped United win the FA Youth Cup in 1992 and was the star performer of that side.

Fergie expected him to become a first team regular, and introduced him to his side as a sub in a game at West Ham in 1994.

However, two months later a nasty tackle by Nicky Marker in a reserve game against Blackburn smashed his knee to pieces.

After spending a year out of the game, he never came back the same player – his pace and confidence badly affected – he slipped into the lower leagues with the likes of Huddersfield, Bury and Halifax.

Thornley now works as a commentator at MUTV and released his brilliant autobiography in 2018.

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Man Utd cult hero Federico Macheda in stunning form for Panathinaikos and linked to big-money European transfer

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