Football's latest hot prospect will be hoping his career has not already peaked.

Real Madrid have reached agreement with Stromsgodset to sign 16-year-old Martin Odegaard, or to give him his official name, ‘Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard’.

Odegaard will be presented to the media at a news conference on Thursday.
Real did not disclose the details of the financial terms but Spanish media reported that they had paid around 3m euros.

He is expected to begin his career in the Real Madrid B team, which is coached by France legend Zinedine Zidane and competes in the third tier of Spanish football.

Odegaard came to prominence last year when he became the youngest player to appear and score in the Norwegian Premier League. He made his debut for Norway as a 15-year-old in August and has frequently been linked with Europe’s bigger clubs.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has previously described him as “a kid with talent and personality”.

He will certainly need both because the world of football is strewn with a litany of precociously gifted teenage footballers who ultimately amounted to very little.

Freddy Adu
Most conversations about players not fulfilling their potential begin and end with Freddy Adu.

Before Adu had not even made his professional debut he was tipped to the sport’s next global superstar. In 2004, aged 14, when the Ghanaian-born forward joined DC United he was already the highest paid player in the MLS. That was pretty much the high point and thereafter, it has pretty much downhill all the way for Adu.

After a disappointing spell in Europe where he failed to establish himself at Benfica, and was then loaned to a number of clubs across the continent, a return to the MLS with Philadelphia Union offered Adu a fresh start. But again, he failed to impress and has since had trials with Bahia (Brazil), Stabaek (Norway), Blackpool (England) and Alkmaar (Holland) without success. Three days before Christmas he was released by FK Jagodina after making just one appearance for the Serbian side.

Nii Lamptey
Another product from Ghana whose promise of being a world-beater turned out to be little more than a mirage.

Lamptey, player of the tournament ahead of Alessandro Del Piero and other future stars at the 1991 Under-17 World Cup, was going to be ‘the next Pele’. Or so thought the original Pele, who gushed: “Lamptey is my natural successor.”

With 38 senior caps for Ghana by the age of 21, an amazing first season in Europe after making his debut aged 15, and a season as a top scorer for PSV Eindhoven while still a teenager, the omens for Lamptey were very good.

But, before long, his career was in freefall. His progress faltered after a move to England with Aston Villa, followed by an equally underwhelming spell with Coventry City.

Before long, Lamptey was enduring the type of peripatetic existence that signals a footballer is on an endlessly downward trajectory.

Kerlon
How often do we hear the expression ‘more of a performing seal than a footballer’ applied to extravagantly gifted players? It is a term that should have been copyrighted by Brazilian forward, Kerlon, who actually was more of a performing seal than a footballer.

Possessing the uncanny ability to run with the ball balanced on his forehead, Kerlon became a media phenomenon when he performed the trick at the 2005 South American Under-17 Championships, where he was named player of the tournament.

Great things were predicted for the forward – in the circus arena, if not the football pitch – but after a lucrative move to Italy via an agreement between Chievo and Inter Milan, his career stalled.

Matters were not helped by primitive methods opponents used in a bid to combat his novel style of dribbling.

Like so many others, a series of loans only harmed his development, and he is now playing for Fujieda MYFC in Japan’s 3rd tier.

John Bostock

Another player tipped for greatness before he had even left school, 15-year-old Bostock made his debut for Crystal Palace in 2007. When he signed for Tottenham a year later via a bitter tribunal, it was seen as something of a coup for the north London side.

He became Spurs’ youngest ever player after his debut in the UEFA Cup in his first season, but a series of loans, mainly in England, hampered his development.

After a spell with Toronto FC, Bostock moved to Belgium on a permanent deal with second division Royal Antwerp, where he stayed until the summer of 2014 when he signed for Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

Keirrison

In Keirrison, Brazil appeared to have discovered yet another world-beater. And like many before him, a premature move to Europe appears to have scuppered his career.

After a successful stint at Cortiba, where he was a prolific goalscorer and achieved a Serie B title and Campeonato Paranaense, he then moved to Palmeiras. But, it wasn’t long before Barcelona came sniffing around and within months he had agreed to move to Camp Nou.

The deal cost Barca €14 million plus a bonus up to €2 million depending on the number of first team appearances he made. A shrewd clause inserted by the Spanish side as Keirrison was to play precisely zero games for his new club.

Instead, just six days into his Barcelona career, he moved on loan to Portuguese outfit Benfica for the remainder of the season. This loan spell proved unsuccessful and after another disappointing period with Fiorentina, he was back in Brazil, this time with Santos.

He eventually moved back to Cortiba on loan and that switch was made permanent last year when his deal with Barcelona was terminated.

It was yet another case of a footballer discovering too late, that the grass is not always greener…