What stage would you stop treating players as 'prospects'?


Quiz Master
Just saw a comment on the Martin Odegaard thread saying "good luck to the lad", an innocent comment of course but it got me thinking that he is 22, while Haaland, Sancho and Frimpong are all 20.

These are all obviously young men who are at the start of their careers, but at what point would you stop thinking of a player as a 'prospect' answers start thinking of him as developed?

Is there a 'games played' equation to consider too?

Also, the players physique?
For example, when Rooney signed for Man Utd at the age of 19 I considered him 'fully developed' (I know he improved.... and decline)

Also, the coach he plays under will have an impact on how much the player develops etc.

So, at what point would you say a player is no longer a prospect and is deemed 'ready'?

erskine bear

Well-Known Member
Part of me thinks it’s about miles on the clock, but some people don’t physically & mentally develop till they are older.

I stop referring to a player as ‘young’ when they are 24/25, even then they are still a few years away from their peak.

Don’t think there is any correct answer to be honest, Itten gets referred to as a ‘great prospect’ but he is the same age as Alfie.

You can see one is more ahead in their development in comparison to the other though, so like I said I don’t think there is a correct answer.

Odegaard is still a prospect because he’s continually improved season on season as shown by great success in Holland, then La Liga & is only being kept out the team by two of the best midfielders from this generation.

Craig McColl

Well-Known Member
Different players develop at different ages. A player that’s played 100 first team games at 18 can’t be considered a ‘prospect’. A player at 20 that hasn’t really featured at all, can. In my opinion.
I tend to think if a player gets to 21 and hasn't had any appearances or very few appearances it's not going to happen at Rangers they'd be as well leaving. Barjonas is the latest example of this. Complete waste of time and a year of his career signing that year extension last season.


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Due to FIFA allowing the farming of youth players, it’s really hard to tell when the stop being a prospect. There are probably many players who are constantly loaned out for profit from the age of 18 without being able to properly develop. I think for most players it could be 22-23 before that player gets the opportunity to actually play and develop their game properly.


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For me 23 is the very maximum you still get u23 teams in a lot of academies but if you are still featuring for the academy by that age they ain't gonna make it at the top level


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Official Ticketer
So subjected - some players at 17/18 are ready (Rooney / A Davies / De Ligt)

others wont be physically / mentally ready until they are in there early 20s

IMHO at 23/24 you are no longer a raw prospect - you can still improve ofcourse but the foundations of ability and consitency should already be there.


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People seem to chop and change depending on the player. As an example, I saw people rip into Morelos (“he’s not doing it for us anymore”, “best moving him on” etc etc) then talk about Itten as this prospect who’s here to develop and replace him, but then the two are practically the same age so it makes little sense to me.

It depends on the game time for me, but generally when a player passes about 21/22 and they’ve had a few games under their belt, they’re no longer a prospect.


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Depends on the player and their position.

Down south where the progression to the first team can be delayed then I'd say it can extend to 23 year olds.

Is a bit different on the continent because of the B teams, they generally transition better from the youth set-up to professional football.

As someone involved with coaching, I'd say there's definitely a misconception about what a player can be taught beyond a certain age. The last few days on here, there's been posts about a first team coach being able to teach a 20 year old how to cross a ball. Not really how progression and top level football works.

The Lone Ranger

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Once you have played a couple of season you are no longer a prospect. I count a player just coming into the team or having a decent first season as a prospect,

The Crimson King

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Depends on position to an extent as well. A goalkeeper would still be a prospect for me right up until they're about 25, a defender maybe a few years earlier, but for attacking midfielders if a player hasn't made it with us or shown signs of development by 22 I start to doubt very much if it will work.

It's a good question and I agree with others it's hard to pin down a universal answer.


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Players reach their peak about 27-28, I think if you’re over 22 you’re maybe not a massive prospect but on the road to being established, however, they still improve up to and until peak.

Harrogate Bluenose

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Goalkeepers can peak in early to mid 30s. Outfield players late 20s.

Players can still develop in the early 20s, so much so they wont show their true potential until.

However even at 18 you can see the signs IMO. From that age they either enhance, decline or become stale.

Ian Durrant, Derek Ferguson and Hugh Burns I watched come through the ranks. At one point I thought Hugh Burns was going to be a star. He became stale and declined whilst the other two started to shine.


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I think the under 23 age is acceptable to use as a barometer. It is a broad spectrum between those who break through early and the later developers. If a player is not kicking on by then he will probably be looking at a lower level career.

Nothing wrong with that because imo to be playing at any level you need a good bit of talent, luck and determination.


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Depends on position to an extent as well. A goalkeeper would still be a prospect for me right up until they're about 25, a defender maybe a few years earlier, but for attacking midfielders if a player hasn't made it with us or shown signs of development by 22 I start to doubt very much if it will work.

It's a good question and I agree with others it's hard to pin down a universal answer.
There is no universal answer.
Look at Prso and Davie Weir for great examples of why there can be no upper limit.
There’ll be better examples as well.
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werent the tims courting the "young lad" gallagher - he's 29 FFS!
I was thinking that it can’t only be that you’ve reached your potential when you get to play for Rangers or Celtic.
This player has played for Scotland.
Surely that means he’s achieved his potential, bettered it if you ask me.


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I’d assume exceptions for people who didn’t play pro till they were older, Siriki Dembele, Vardy & Prso for example?.
Although those players are a rare occurrence, I do agree players will peak at different times, I’d say 23/24 as everyone’s body is different, who really knows though tbh it depends on the teams they play for also, for example that boy Arsenal just got on loan, I’d hazard a guess Modric may step aside next season and he’ll get a run of games for Madrid it’s hard to displace players of that level who have consistently performed for years


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Isn't prospect a nice way of saying he is really good at some things but really shit at others, if he gets better at the shit stuff he will be a great player.

Gazzabear v2.0

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As a club we may well have different grade of prospect to suit our business model.

For example, Middleton is seen as a prospect for the first team squad, thats why he is still here, away on loan, rather than released.

Hagi is seen as a prospect who can do turn for us and then make us a small fortune in future transfer fees.

We need a mixture of both, but as fans we will never really buy into that if we aren't successful at the same time.

(Players were an example, you may disagree, thats ok)


Well-Known Member
I mentioned this elsewhere, so apologies to anyone who has already seen it.

I think the game has changed a lot, much like society has, in this regard. Adolescence starts earlier and lasts longer in terms of our understanding of mental development and the effects of things like social media. I think it applies to footballers as well.

Take our next 3 signings. In terms of senior football, they have:

Wright - age 23, 92 appearances, 4412 minutes
Simpson - age 24, 35 appearances, 2515 minutes
Ofoborh - age 21, 30 appearances, 1512 minutes

Our youth players would be written off if they had numbers like that from loan spells or being with us for years, and yet those three have done enough to earn moves to Rangers. I think we have to judge this on a very different scale to the one which was used even just 10 years ago.

chosen few

Well-Known Member
Just my opinion but if a player hasn't made it into the first team squad by the age of 22, he ain't going to make it, at our club anyway.


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Pretty sure Henry was 22 when he signed for Arsenal

So he wasn't a prospect according to his manager?

That's interesting as each season that went by he got better and better.

That's true but to be fair I think Wenger was first team coach at Monaco when Henry was coming up through the youth ranks. Although he said in his autobiography he signed a 23 year old "promising striker" George Weah at Monaco so I guess he's a tad contradictory.


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'27 year old prospect' is a jibe aimed at Lingard a lot on various forums.

To answer your question 'when they statistically become the best player in that position for their respective clubs despite age' or 'get too old to be classified as such'.


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Players develop at different rates and I certainly would write anyone off too soon.

But if a player isn’t seriously knocking on the door for a starting place at 21 then the chances are he isn’t going to cut it (at that particular team). Lack of playing time could be related to the manager or it could be related to the style.

But if your 21 and not close to semi regular first team pitch time then you should be looking for an alternative club for the sake of your career imo.