Emmanuel Frimpong announced his retirement this week, and, while it isn’t exactly a case of what could have been, it was still disappointing news.
Frimpong’s Arsenal career may have long since been over – he left the club in January 2014 – but it was hoped that he could at least prosper elsewhere in some capacity.
Injuries have always been a recurring theme during Frimpong’s Arsenal career, with the midfielder having missed the conclusion of the U18s’ double winning campaign a decade ago due to a knee problem.
It was a knee injury that caused Frimpong to end his career, while some may well point to his social media activity as a factor behind him not making the most of his ability.
There was a time when Frimpong was considered to be one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects with his ability to break up play with crunching challenges and play short, snappy passes.
That earned him 16 first-team appearances, but a long-term breakthrough proved beyond him, despite an encouraging loan spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The wider concern is that so many of Arsenal’s previous crop of talented youngsters have failed to make a major impact elsewhere.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is at PTT Rayong, Sanchez Watt is playing for Hemel Hempstead Town and Conor Henderson is at Dunarea Calarasi, while Frimpong is retired. If you had been told that ten years ago then you would have been quite surprised.
All of this demonstrates just how difficult it is for youngsters to make the grade at Arsenal or indeed elsewhere.
It is one thing to excel at youth level and then reach the periphery of the first-team squad, as Eddie Nketiah has done, but making that next step is extremely challenging.
Even if you do make it to the top then injuries are still capable of stopping you in your tracks .