The promise a young footballer brings to a club is something that is all too often not fulfilled. Teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all look to sign talent at a young age, thus allowing them to cultivate the player and their growth into a top footballing talent.
However, sometimes, even when a player is given all the resources and knowledge of a massive club, they still fail to truly fulfil the potential they had been showing at a young age.
This is exactly the fate that befell Bournemouth’s Josh King.
King signed with Manchester United at the age of 16, with the Norwegian player unable to do so prior to his sixteenth birthday due to UEFA’s rules.
However, it was not a case of good things coming to those who wait. King failed to make a single appearance for United, as he was loaned out to a number of clubs. While he was on his travels, many saw it as a chance for the forward to show his parent club exactly what they were missing, and, as it turned out, it really wasn’t all that much.
King scored three goals across three years away from the club, making just 36 appearances in the process. The loan spell had failed to ignite his career and he was subsequently bought by Blackburn, with whom he scored two of his goals whilst on loan, ending his association with United.
While with Blackburn he was woeful, scoring just three goals in 56 appearances, and this, for whatever reason, convinced Eddie Howe and his current club Bournemouth to take the youngster onto their wage books.
Playing in the Championship did not seem to agree with the forward, who had not actually been able to find any sort of goalscoring form. However, in the Premier League he has been able to tap into the sort of potential that Manchester United saw in him all those years ago.
It is not just against the smaller teams that he is scoring against too. He has netted against Chelsea, Liverpool, two against Everton, a hat-trick against West Ham and one against former club Manchester United.
His goals against many of the supposed ‘bigger teams’ does beg the question of whether he has become a big fish at a smaller pond in Bournemouth.
His time in the Championship alludes to the fact he struggles for consistency which is not the hallmark of a top player. Of course, an ability to score goals, pick up assists and perform in the biggest games is important. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are supremely talented, but they would not be half the players they are today if they weren’t so consistent and able to perform in the biggest games.
King’s time with United will always have people questioning whether he should be at a bigger team, and his goals this season will intensify these questions. However, his displays with Blackburn, in which he scored a goal every 18.6 games was nothing short of pathetic.
King has a long way to go before he can consider himself too good for Bournemouth then. The Cherries have helped him to revitalise his career in part. He has rediscovered his goal scoring touch of late, but this may just be a flash in the pan, meaning it is unlikely that a team will look to acquire his services before they know whether he can play consistently.