Unearthing a gem of a footballer can save a club millions of pounds, but being labelled the 'next Lionel Messi' can sometimes place an unbearable burden on the shoulders of an up-and-coming prospect.
Once upon a time Freddy Adu was destine to take the footballing world by storm, but a decade and a half later he is currently without a club at the age of 30, having been released Las Vegas Lights FC in 2018.
Clubs invest massively in their scouting networks to get one up on their rivals in the modern era, with youngsters now recruited in even the most remote corner of the planet.
And Starsport have scoured the globe to bring you seven of the best wonderkids set to explode on to the scene over the next year or two.
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Rayan Cherki – Lyon
A product of Lyon's youth academy, Cherki is considered one of the Ligue 1 club's best ever prospects.
The last time there was this kind of buzz around a young player in France, it centred around a certain Mr. Mbappe.
After scoring four goals in the 2019–20 UEFA Youth League, Cherki made his senior European debut in a Champions League group game against Zenit Saint Petersburg in November 2019.
"He is a boy who invents things all the time. He creates the unexpected and captivates the attention of everyone: team-mates, coaches, opponents, fans," said Jean-Baptiste Gregoire, who has coached the 16-year-old.
"But what impresses me the most is his passion for football, his determination and his mind to reach the highest level as fast as possible."
Eduardo Camavinga – Rennes
Camavinga signed a professional contract with Rennes at the age of 16 and one month, becoming the youngest ever professional for the club.
Born in Angola in 2002 to Congolese parents, the midfielder's family relocated to France when he was a baby.
According to Marca, Real Madrid are preparing to launch a bid to land Camavinga during this summer's transfer window.
The report claims that the teenager is valued in the region of £58.6m by his current club as they have him on a contract until the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Camavinga, who has already been capped at Under-21 level by France, has contributed one goal and one assist in 22 Ligue 1 appearances during the current season.
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Youssoufa Moukoko – Borussia Dortmund
Arguably the most hyped prospect in Europe, Moukoko has been so prolific in his three short years with the Borussia Dortmund U15s, 16s and 17s that he is already playing for the U19s.
Considered by some at the Bundesliga giants to be the next Haaland, the 15-year-old has also been allowed to train with BVB's senior team by boss Lucien Favre.
Moukoko scored twice in a recent 3-0 victory over Rot-Weiß Oberhausen to take his tally to 34 goals for the season – with six games still to play.
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Takefusa Kubo – Real Madrid
Signed by Barcelona as a 10-year-old, outrageously gifted attacker Kubo has been labelled 'the Japanese Messi'.
The youngest player to appear and score in the J-League, he joined Real Madrid last summer on a five-year deal after a spell back in his homeland.
Currently on loan at Real Mallorca, Kubo netted his third goal of the season on Saturday to help his struggling side secure a crucial 2-1 away victory over Eibar in La Liga.
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Xavi Simons – Paris St-Germain
Hot prospect Simons signed a deal with French giants PSG said to be worth almost £1m-per-year after he walked out on Barcelona's La Masia academy last summer.
Barca received just €130,000 in development rights as the 16-year-old Dutch midfielder's terms had expired.
He becomes the latest in a long line of players who have decided to pursue their careers away from the Nou Camp in recent years, following Mateu Morey and Sergio Gomez [Borussia Dortmund], Eric Garcia and Adrian Bernabe [Manchester City] and Robert Navarro [Monaco].
With 2.6 million Instagram followers, Simons has a huge fan base already – but whether he lives up to the hype remains to be seen.
Ryan Gravenberch – Ajax
Gravenberch has made the step up from Jong Ajax to the first team under Erik ten Hag, scoring twice in seven league appearances.
The highly-rated midfielder has caught the eye of Juventus, with the Serie A kings reportedly interested in a double swoop for the 17-year-old and team-mate Donyell Malen.
Both players are expected to cost in excess of €30m but Gravenburch would seemingly prefer to ply his trade in La Liga.
"I love Spain. I think football is really beautiful," the 17-year-old said recently. "Even the small clubs there: every player has great technique."
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Jude Bellingham – Birmingham City
Teenager Bellingham could be the next star in the making after earning a regular place at Championship outfit Birmingham this season, despite being just 16 years of age.
The former England Under-15s and Under-16s captain impressed in the Under-23s Blues side before breaking into the first XI just 12 months ago.
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Now seriously interesting Manchester United, Bellingham was pictured at Carrington this week having been given a tour of the facilities.
A bright future beckons for the midfield starlet, who has a keen eye for goal and captained England’s Under-17 side to victory at the Syrenka Cup in September, being named player of the tournament in the process.
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