The wonderkid bias sees many youngsters put on the pedestal on Football Index. It's a chance to invest for fantastic capital appreciation, and in cases like TAA or Sancho, they turn out to be dividend kings that massively reward early investors with 3 figure ROIs and regular cash payouts.
The issue is that many do not succeed. And when they outgrow their 'wonderkid' status, they fall off the pedestal and have to grind to make their way back up.
Are the ex-wonderkids bad players? Or have they just had bad seasons?
With ME, plenty of 'undesirables' can be acquired for up to 40% of their market value, whilst they are still likely the same 'potential' that they were just one year ago. They aren't necessarily bad players - some are perhaps worse than anticipated - but they've only had one year of development. They're still young.
There's a sweet spot to find these players. The usual mould is 20-24, and they've typically have made moves to big clubs and disappointed, or simply gone under the radar with a lack of buzz in their performances. Let's look at some examples.
The most obvious example of a hyped player, big money signing, disappointing. Joao Felix arrived at Atletico Madrid one year ago as the 4th most expensive signing in Football history. 9 goals all season was less than emphatic. Traders offloaded the 20 year old to pursue other options. Is Felix genuinely that bad, or was it just a rough season adjusting to a system that doesn't suit him? He's 20. In the next three years, Atletico could develop more fluid attacking options, he could move again, he could start every game. It's an interesting one, everyone knows about Felix, and he has clearly disappointed in terms of dividends. But he's younger than the vast majority of Champions League strikers, and Atletico will surely be using him more effectively or offloading to recoup their £113m before he outgrows his wonderkid hype.
Another 20 year old who's failed to find his feet at a new club. Everton continually gave him the chance... off the bench. He started 6 premier league games, and was subbed on in 23. Juventus offloaded their young striker at a time where forwards looked in abundance, but he's since struggled for game time in a far less competitive striker rotation. Poor PB, share value seemingly on a constant decrease. The investment has lost all traction on FI. However, he's just 20. He's played Premier League, Serie A, Champions League and is Italy's youngest scoring player in their history. Is he a bad player, or just had a bad season? Is there hope for his share value to rise once again?
The Serbian striker was meant to be Real Madrid's long-term replacement for Benzema. A combination of injury and poor form saw him start just 4 La Liga fixtures, and make 13 cameo appearances off the bench. Two goals is more than disappointing. Jovic posted a 325 PB score back in 2018, suggesting he's capable of PB dividends should he find some form. As it stands, he's out of favour in Madrid and losing his wonderkid hype by the week.
The Italian forward wasn't hugely hyped in the first instance, though traders were aware that Wolves continue to develop some great prospects each year. It was exciting to see a young striker join the squad - and his value reached £1.18 at the end of August. Then he struggled for game time, didn't fit the squad and moved away to Fiorentina in the January window. His price has since slipped down to £0.75, and a competitive bid lies around 50% of his value from 12 months ago. A thoroughly underwhelming signing for Wolves, but the talent that they saw is still somewhere within the player. Cutrone may have just had a rocky season, and if he can establish himself as a regular scorer in Serie A, he could well move back to the premier league as a more complete forward in the coming few years - by which point he'll only be in his mid 20s.
The United Bias certainly had a part to play in his inflated share value 12 months ago, as regular media appearances fell his way. However, 12 months on and the Welshman looks an entirely different investment. His performances haven't been bad, but his lack of media in a star-studded squad means his price has rightfully plummeted. At 22, James can still develop into a great player. He'll play second fiddle on the wings should Sancho or another first-class winger join United, whilst Greenwood has shunned James into the shadows since his rise to stardom. It's difficult to see how the next three years will unfold for Daniel James - Mata and Lingaard look increasingly irrelevant in United's squad.. If he improves, injury rotates him into the squad, or perhaps he takes his chances from the bench, he's still got media on his side at United. A bid north of £1.30 is competitive to secure shares, and there's plenty that could chance in the next three years to see that value rise.
Many other prospects could slot into the hyped criteria. Perhaps they were speculated to transfer, or even made a transfer that did no favours for them. Perhaps they had no transfer speculation whatsoever, but their performances haven't justified their value to stabilise as they've aged over the 12 months.
For these individuals, a more impressive PB rating is vital going forward in order to sustain their value. Traders need to see something more in order to see any capital appreciation.
Ademola Lookman transferred to RB Leipzig - who had a terrific season, reaching the Semi Final of the Champions League. He's barely featured though.
Rodrigo Bentancur has played regularly for Juventus in recent seasons, but his mediocre PB scores have seen his price drop as he's outgrown his wonderkid status, despite his frequently good performances.
Lucas Paqueta has worn Brazil's Number 10 shirt in the last 12 months. There's been huge expectations for his future for Brazil. His move to AC Milan saw the creative playmaker struggle to make any impact in Serie A, and the 22 year old's share value is just £1.00 now.
Merih Demiral moved to Juventus as a back-up centre half for the ageing Chiellini and Bonucci. ACL injury forced the Turk to sit the second half of the season out - his share value has dropped to £1.02 despite still being tipped to replace some of the greatest centre halves of the modern era.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was rumoured to move to Bayern throughout a period of last season. Then injury forced him to the sideline, and a slow return to a competitive Chelsea side ensued. He was once around £5 per share, he's now dropped to £3.23 despite the fact that he's still just 19 years old and far from the finished article.
You can see that there have been peaks, and consequently drops, in a lot of young talents throughout Europe. Some of them have failed to make a mark at the top, whilst others have simply had a rough season. They're all still young, and are not the complete article.
Next time you see a player who fits this mould, consider this - have they just had a bad season? If you think their ability is still clearly able to improve, then they are plenty young enough to hold value for a full three years and reach their previous peaks. If they can post more promising PB numbers, they may just be a future PB king.
On the flip side of this, next time you see a wonderkid, just consider what could happen if they don't make it big. Occasionally they slip up, struggle for game time, get injured or simply get forgotten by traders. Young players don't just linearly rise with time, it takes spikes in hype or dividends to generate any traction. Now more than ever, dividends are playing a pivotal role in trading activity whilst capital appreciation is a far harder chase than we've previously experienced.