Emerging Talent: Accept no imitations.

Here we go again! Its summertime, clubs around the world draw up their list of transfer targets and the press silly season begins once again. However, as stories emerge of football’s elite looking to strengthen their squads to take themselves to new heights, many reports would have you believe they are merely looking to replicate the past. As Chelsea look close to securing the signature of Anderlecht striker, Romelo Lukaku, dubbed “The new Didier Drogba”, here are a few examples of past signings, that haven’t quite lived up to their previous comparisons.

David Bentley: The new David Beckham, according to the wisdom of Steve McClaren.

In case that didn’t quite sum it up: David Bentley, after failing to impose himself in the Arsenal Squad, Bentley finally found himself enhancing his reputation with some fine performances, earning himself a call-up to McClaren’s England squad. In the aftermath of Beckham’s exclusion from the international setup, Bentley’s inclusion saw him hastily labelled English football’s new DB7. However, after joining Tottenham Hotspur in 2008, he has made 42 appearances in a Spurs shirt, before struggling to make an impact on loan to now-relegated Birmingham City. As Bentley’s season drew to a close, the comparisons to Beckham were uncanny, both found themselves out of Fabio Capello’s thoughts, and neither playing in a Premier League club’s shirt. Wonder who’s happier…

Joe Cole: Harsh? Possibly. Dubbed the new Paul Gascoigne, Joe Cole was one of the hottest properties in the game, linked with a big-money move to Manchester United aged just 16. Given he has three Premier League titles and three FA Cups to his name from his time at Chelsea, many would argue Cole has in fact more than lived up to his billing. However, as it is widely agreed that Gazza’s personal demons ultimately restricted his success as a player, Cole would have been expected to go onto greater personal successes. While his league winners’ medals exceed the count of most of his current teammates, at 29, Cole finds himself with just two goals in 20 appearances, in an injury-plagued Liverpool career so far, carrying on from his fitness battles in previous at Chelsea. Without an England appearance in 2011, and making just two substitute appearances in England’s ill-fated World Cup campaign, stories linking Cole to a reunion with former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur, may well give Cole the revival he needs, before its too late.

Neil Mellor: The Liverpool starlet burst onto the scene, with a stunning long-range strike against Arsenal in 2004, shades of a certain Liverpool skipper. Looking like a curvier version of Steven Gerrard, Mellor’s moment in the headlines was brief, his only other achievement to mirror Gerrard, was the two both being sent off in the same pre-season friendly in 2003. After six goals in 22 Liverpool appearances, Mellor departed for Preston North End, and most recently, was loaned to Sheffield Wednesday. Looks really can be deceiving.

Gabrielle Ambrosetti: Who? Exactly. A winger, signed for Chelsea by Gianluca Vialli, was dubbed “The Italian Ryan Giggs” by his then-manager, arrived at Stamford Bridge in 1999, for £3.5m, signing a five-year contract with The Blues. The signing of a player, clearly held in such high regard by the manager, had Chelsea fans expecting the arrival of a new Stamford Bridge hero. However, after a single goal in 23 appearances and with three loan spells during his four years on Chelsea’s books, Ambrosetti promptly returned to Italy, and was never heard from upon these shores again.

Lassana Diarra: “The new Makelele”, was the cry from just about most, when Chelsea brought the Frenchman to Stamford Bridge in 2005, Diarra appeared to have all the hallmarks of the man with his position named after him, but somehow no manager ever really fancied making “Lass” their first-choice midfield anchor. Despite his undoubted talent, Diarra grew frustrated with life on the fringes and sought a move, out of the shadow of Makelele, to Arsenal in 2007. After a frustrating year, Diarra moved on once more, signing for Portsmouth in 2008. While Portsmouth declined, Diarra returned to Europe’s elite, joining Real Madrid in 2009. While his current side has offered him more first-team football than any other in his career, his second spell working under Jose Mourinho, again sees Diarra being frustrated at not being an automatic choice. Again linked with moves, to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, the 26-year-old journeyman will be hoping to establish himself in one of Europe’s top leagues.

Daniel Clarke



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