Players you feel made extraordinary leaps in development far beyond what you thought possible for them?

Fortitude

TV/Monitor Expert
Scout
Joined
Jul 10, 2004
Messages
11,574
Location
Inside right
Prompted by Vergil van Dijk and Sadio Mane, first and foremost. I'd like written evidence of anyone who looked at these guys at Southampton and said: "that van Dijk will be the world's best centre back in a couple of years!"

Or, "this erratic fellow will be one of the world's best attackers in a few seasons."

Fair play to anyone that did, mind, bet you were looked upon like you were speaking tongues at the time?

If a player was already tipped for the very top, he doesn't count: this thread is for players who went through absolutely meteoric, unexpected development that takes people by surprise.

Perhaps Henry qualifies? Rated as a young left winger, but who thought he'd become one of the strikers of his generation?

Which players should be added?
 

Terminator

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Messages
1,228
Mane and Salah by far for me. Even to this day,I wonder how well they would've developed without Klopps system.
 

elánius

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
122
For me it is Georginio Wijnaldum. I remember some time that he was supposed to be our target so i checked a lot of his games and thought that he is nothing more than average footballer with no significant strengths. So I didnt want him and when Liverpool bought him, I thought he will be some flop like many their trasnfers from Premier League before, f. e. Lallana, Benteke, Clyne, Lovren and so on and I kind of laughed at them.

But I was so wrong it is not even funny. Definitely one of the best central midfielders out there, strong in duels, strong with ball, covers all the space. He is perfect fit for Liverpool and their style of play and I admire him deeply.
 

BootsyCollins

Full Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
1,628
Location
Under the roof, above the clouds
De Bruyne is one for me. He was good at loans from Chelsea, but to say he would reach the level he is at now....

I would also like to see what people thought of Harry Kane in the beginning. Even after his first great season people would write him of as a one season wonder.
 

BootsyCollins

Full Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
1,628
Location
Under the roof, above the clouds

11101

Full Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
10,499
Ronaldo. You knew he would be good, but never in a million years thought we had one of the top 3 or 4 players of all time on our hands.
 

Pexbo

Online influencer who has never watched Star Wars
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
46,218
Location
Brizzle
Henry was hugely rated as a youngster, he just had a poor time adapting in Italy and Wenger snapped him up.

Vidic and Evra are two good shouts imo and Forlan upon leaving United.

Augero I think everyone knew was a super talent but I didn’t expect him to adapt to the EPL so quickly and settle in England as well as he has. Was convinced he would have angled for a move back to La Liga with Real or Barca about 5 years ago. Perhaps he would have but for MSN and BBC
 

André Dominguez

Full Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
3,293
Location
Lisbon
Supports
Benfica, Académica
Even though he's on the descending phase of it's career, I'm going to point Matic. He was pretty much a bang average player when he joined Benfica and he was supposed to be an attacking midfielder until Jorge Jesus turned him into an amazing CDM.

Other is Fábio Coentrão: fast and pacey winger who basically offered little more than stamina and speed at senior level, became a very good LB to the point Real Madrid hired him. It's fair to say that Madrid was way above his level, but we all thought he was doomed to be a small team player.

Marega: there are even youtube compilations making fun of him from his first season at Porto. Bare in mind that he isn't a world class type of player, but he's good enough to have a squad spot on a top european club.
 

Bondi77

Full Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
406
Ronaldo for me,
Thought the kid looked like a tricky winger with a bit of pace but I was still missing Becks,
Has to be one of my favourite times in football watching this kid gradually morph into an absolute beast of a footballer at our very own club.
 

In Rainbows

Full Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
4,763
Michael Keane. Thought he looked worse than Thorpe apart from having a better traditional physique for a CB. Had good qualities, but was too prone to errors compared to Thorpe.
 

Mickson

Full Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
1,267
Location
Vidal's knee
Harry Kane for me. One of the few I have been way off on. Not that I had studied him that closely but when I saw him play I immediately thought he was an avarage-Joe kind of striker. A Danny Ings or something.
 

Mb194dc

Full Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2015
Messages
1,712
Supports
Chelsea
Ronaldo 7, more so when you look what happened to Quaresma.
 

Dancfc

Full Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2016
Messages
1,865
Supports
Chelsea
Loftus Cheek. Small sample size as it was basically three months at the end of last season but he turned into our second most important player behind Hazard and I honestly thought he was never going to amount to anything more than a super sub.

Tammy is another one too, I knew he was capable of the goal ratio he has produced so far but his quality of link up and movement has really shocked me, pleasently.
 

Sky1981

Fending off the urge
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
23,776
Location
Under the bright neon lights of sincity
Ronaldo was mercurial, i knew he's good. But i never expected his ceiling to be that much higher. To be fair he reached goat area.

Fletcher, too late and unexpected but it is a big leap.

Nemanja vidic,.shaky one year, continue developing to become one of the best

Rashford,.credit where it's due. His debut was a fluke but he took the game and never looked back

Pogba, how the feck we let that kind of talent goes for free and plays rafael in midfield. Even if he's not finished article it should be clear he's ready for debut.
 

Gio

★★★★★★★★
Joined
Jan 25, 2001
Messages
16,513
Location
Bonnie Scotland
Supports
Rangers
Lampard's transformation from a jack-of-all-trades typical PL central midfielder into a world-class goalscoring #8 caught me by surprise.

It was pretty clear in Scotland that Van Dijk had masses of potential - physically and technically he was operating on a different planet. It was just very difficult to predict how his concentration levels would improve as it is such a critical factor in a defensive player moving up to the top level.

Perhaps Henry qualifies? Rated as a young left winger, but who thought he'd become one of the strikers of his generation?
Not in terms of becoming one of the best attackers in the world - that much was clear from his 1997/98 season with Monaco scoring 7 in 9 in the Champions League, and there was enough evidence at the 1998 World Cup that he could become much more than just a touchline-hugger. Still, I doubt anyone would have called his positional swap into the middle, especially in that era when wide players in the British game were not the roaming forwards we see today.
 

Josh 76

Full Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
Messages
1,515
Robertson
Van Dyke
Matip
TAA

Henderson
Wynaldam
Ox

Salah
Frimino
Mane
 

The Boy

Full Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Messages
1,076
Supports
Brighton and Hove Albion
I’d say Cantona, we all knew he was good when he was at Leeds, though quite erratic as well. I don’t think anyone could guess how well he and Utd would suit each other and the impact he would have, it was incredible to watch at the time and I can’t think of anyone who’s matched it since.
 

Bwuk

Full Member
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
12,462
Andy Robertson. I liked him at Hull, but I didn't see him progressing to one of the worlds best left backs.
 

TheReligion

Abusive
Joined
Nov 22, 2006
Messages
25,524
Location
Manchester
Loftus Cheek. Small sample size as it was basically three months at the end of last season but he turned into our second most important player behind Hazard and I honestly thought he was never going to amount to anything more than a super sub.

Tammy is another one too, I knew he was capable of the goal ratio he has produced so far but his quality of link up and movement has really shocked me, pleasently.
Is Loftus Cheek really anymore than a squad player currently though? Maybe I'm reading this thread incorrectly but extraordinary leap in development to me is turning into something really special.
 

Evans999

New Member
Newbie
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
111
Location
Wales
David De Gea, those first couple of seasons are now long forgotten but some of the mistakes he made were farcical.
 

TwoSheds

More sheds (and tiles) than you, probably
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Messages
5,048
Vardy. What was it, 5 goals in Leicester's first year in the Prem? Maybe less? He was always a handful in terms of pace and stamina but he looked absolutely shite on the ball and had suspect finishing. And then it just clicked into gear and he's a top striker playing for the league champions. Madness.
 

Dancfc

Full Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2016
Messages
1,865
Supports
Chelsea
Is Loftus Cheek really anymore than a squad player currently though? Maybe I'm reading this thread incorrectly but extraordinary leap in development to me is turning into something really special.
The last few months of last season he really exploded into something of real substance. My main critisism of him before was he drifted out of games too much and made criminally poor decisions in crucial areas, both of which he improved vastly on.

I think Sarri actually deserves a lot of credit for that because I noticed early on in that season he was constantly calling Ruben to the touchline whenever there was a break in play, he was the first manager at club level that took a major interest in developing him whereas Roy (LM), Conte (ST) and Jose (DM) seemed to just shoehorn him a position that best hid his weaknesses within their system.

Although that said I sadly don't see the improved version returning anytime soon, his injury was a huge blow and was much more serious an injury to what Hudson Odoi and Reece James suffered, and given the time it took for both to get back up to speed (especially the former) I'm not expecting miracles with RLC.
 

Maluco

Full Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
346
Gareth Bale. I knew he was a “highly rated youngster”, but so was Luke Shaw

I was more disappointed that we had missed out on a solid left back. When he had the long losing streak at the start, I was content enough!

I never imagined that he would develop into this physical attacking monster that was capable of winning games by himself.

Not the prettiest player, so tends not to get mentioned, but that pace and power was breathtaking and I never saw it coming.
 

EwanI Ted

Full Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Messages
918
Darren Fletcher is a candidate, as a younger player it was hard to identify anything he was outstanding at. Had mid-table PL player written all over him when he was younger, but became (albeit for a shortish period) one of the first names on our team sheet.
 

LASpurs

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
103
Location
Houston TX
Supports
Tottenham Hotspur
Gareth Bale is one for me. When he joined Spurs he was powder puff weak and constantly messing with his hair slides on the pitch. Got injured a few months into his Spurs career then never really shone when he played at left back. Remember when he came back from injury he put in a particularly terrible shift at Old Trafford in the League Cup. Rumours were Redknapp even contemplated selling him to Notts Forest.
 

redman5

Full Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
5,204
Location
In a world of my own. People know me here.
I remember Rafa trying to sign David Silva for Liverpool. I was a little bit 'meh' about the interest because every time I'd watched him play for Spain he never looked anything special. He's certainly someone's who's improved with age.
 

passing-wind

Full Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2013
Messages
1,557
I think you could throw most of that Liverpool team into the conversation but it's a testament to Klopp's ability to coach success.

Kane, Gnabry, Mane, Kante and Robertson I'd put Vardy in there at a squeeze.
 

VorZakone

What would Kenny G do?
Joined
May 9, 2013
Messages
18,293
I had never even heard of Kante before he came to Leicester and fecking dominated opposition midfields in 2015/16.

Also thought Gnaby was one of Arsenal's many youngers who wouldn't amount to much.
 

Offside

Euro 2016 sweepstake winner
Joined
Jun 9, 2012
Messages
17,108
Location
Yorkshire
Kane is the best example of this. Was a running joke how shite he was for a while then suddenly became the best striker in Europe.