Footballers rejected by other clubs as youngsters, including Harry Kane at Arsenal and Marcus Rashford at Manchester City

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Footballers rejected by other clubs as youngsters, including Harry Kane at Arsenal and Marcus Rashford at Manchester City


Rejected

Arsene Wenger was angry when he found out the Tottenham and England striker slipped through the net, while City thought United ace Rashford was too small

Kylian Mbappe once had a trial at Chelsea before he decided to join Monaco’s youth team.

It was in the south of France instead of south west London where he thought he had the best chance of developing his talent.

“I was still young back then, maybe 10 or 11. I went to London and spent just under a week over there. I trained at Chelsea and we played a friendly match against Charlton,” he has said.

“We won 6-0 or 7-0. I played upfront, but I don’t think I scored. It was great – it was my first experience abroad and a chance for me to see what the game was like in England.”

He’s still only 19, but has already secured a £165m switch to Paris Saint-Germain and won the World Cup with France.

Here, though, talkSPORT.com looks at players who were rejected by big clubs when they were younger, beginning with Mario Balotelli and Barcelona, who will definitely feel they dodged a bullet.

11. Mario Balotelli at Barcelona – scroll through the gallery to see more footballer who were rejected as youngsters

11. Mario Balotelli at Barcelona – scroll through the gallery to see more footballer who were rejected as youngsters – Balotelli’s family secured the young Italian a trial at Barca in June 2006. However, doubts about his attitude meant the deal never went ahead despite scoring an impressive five goals.

10. Marcus Rashford at Man City

10. Marcus Rashford at Man City – At the age of nine, Fletcher Moss Rangers’ Rashford was on Manchester City’s radar. The club was walking distance from his family home, but he was deemed to small and Man United capitalised to beat their rivals to the striker’s signature. “They didn’t fancy him because he was a bit on the small side and didn’t pick him up,” Fletcher Moss Rangers’ club secretary Ron Jamieson said.

9. Diego Costa at Corinthians, Palmeiras and Santos

9. Diego Costa at Corinthians, Palmeiras and Santos – Brazil-born Costa never made it to one of the country’s top club academies, due to a lack of proper scouting rather than a lack of talent. He was eventually spotted at 15 by agent Jorge Mendes who took him across the Atlantic to Braga.

8. Roy Keane at Brighton

8. Roy Keane at Brighton – Desperate for a trial at any club, a 15-year-old Keane thought he had one at Brighton, but the club cancelled it the day before because they heard he was too small. This is the same Roy Keane who was the heartbeat of Man United’s success in the 1990s and early noughties. Undeterred, Keane wrote to Football League clubs asking for a trial and was eventually signed by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in 1990 before joining United three years later.

7. Antoine Griezmann at Lyon

7. Antoine Griezmann at Lyon – As a boy, Griezmann was rejected by a host of clubs including Lyon, Auxerre, Saint-Etienne and Sochaux. The clubs cited his lack of height for their decisions.

6. Luke Shaw at Chelsea

6. Luke Shaw at Chelsea – A boyhood Chelsea fan, Shaw played at the club’s Guildford development centre, but wasn’t offered an academy place. Instead, Shaw joined the Southampton academy aged eight and stayed there until his big money move to Man United in 2014.

5. Harry Kane at Arsenal

5. Harry Kane at Arsenal – Kane spent a year in the Arsenal academy before being released, due to a lack of height and pace. In 2015, Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said he was disappointed the club had chosen to release Kane. “I didn’t know, I read it in the papers,” the former manager said. “I found it quite funny, you know, and you are always a bit angry as well because I asked: ‘Why did he go?’ But at that age, boys can move here and there.”

4. Javier Zanetti at Independiente

4. Javier Zanetti at Independiente – As a teen, Zanetti was told by Independiente’s youth academy he didn’t have the physique to succeed in the game. The Argentine ended up playing 868 times for Inter, winning a host of silverware in an incredible career.

3. Ruud Gullit at Arsenal

3. Ruud Gullit at Arsenal – When he was 19, Gullit had a trial at Arsenal but was turned down because manager Terry Neill couldn’t justify the £300,000 price tag. “Every manager has a skeleton in his cupboard and Gullit is certainly mine,” Neill, who managed the club between 1976 and 1983, said.

2. Franco Baresi at Inter

2. Franco Baresi at Inter – If things had turned out differently, the Milan legend could have ended up playing for their bitter rivals, Inter, where his brother was playing. “I wanted to follow him so I had a trial first with Inter, and they said, ‘Well, come back next year.’ But my coach took me to Milan, and there I was accepted, although it took a couple of trials. They were worried about my size, that I wouldn’t grow much, or toughen up. I was only 14 at the time.” Baresi ended up playing 719 games between 1977 and 1997 for the club and was crowned ‘Player of the Century.’

1. Ronaldo at Flamengo

1. Ronaldo at Flamengo – As a teenager, Ronaldo was turned down by his favourite club Flamengo. He joined Cruzeiro instead and scored 44 goals in 47 games and went on to become one of football’s greatest ever players. Among other players, he starred for Inter, Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as winning the World Cup with Brazil and has 15 strikes to his name in the tournament.





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