Regrets? These clubs have had a few.
Some of world football’s biggest teams have been made to look rather foolish in recent years by their former wonderkids-turned stars.
Overlooked and undervalued, some of the game’s top players were simply cast aside by their academies before someone else took a chance on them.
And now some of these clubs have the audacity to come crawling back, begging their former starlets to return.
To be clear, this isn’t about smaller clubs selling talent for profit, like Southampton, for instance. There’s an element of necessity there.
This is calling out when talent simply isn’t appreciated and, instead, flourishes elsewhere. Let’s begin…
Jadon Sancho (Man City)
Yeah, City missed a trick with this one.
Now regarded as one of the most talented young players in the world, Sancho was on Man City’s books between 2015 and 2017 before joining Borussia Dortmund.
He had established himself as one of the academy’s brightest stars, but in July 2017, Sancho was omitted from the pre-season tour squad due to a dispute over assurances of playing time in a new contract.
He subsequently began to force a move away from the club, sealing an £8million move to the Bundesliga.
Fast forward three years and the 20-year-old is being linked with a mouthwatering £100m return to the Premier League, where he never even made an appearance for City.
Jeremie Boga (Chelsea)
Ask anyone who has followed Chelsea’s youth team closely and they’ll tell you that Boga, not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, was the true prodigy.
Great things were expected of the Ivorian midfielder after he broke into the Chelsea senior team in 2015.
His one Premier League appearance came on the opening day of the 2017/18 season against Burnley, but it lasted just 18 minutes after Gary Cahill’s early red card meant Boga was substituted.
He was eventually sold to Serie A club Sassulo for £3.5m, seemingly spelling the end of his bright future.
But now, the 23-year-old has finally started to show his potential in Italy.
The former Chelsea youngster has emerged as Sassulo’s talisman with eight goals and two assists in 24 league appearances so far this season – and his dribbling stats are among the best in Europe.
His form has been so impressive that Chelsea are reportedly considering exercising a £12.8m buy-back clause to re-sign him this summer.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (AC Milan)
Milan made one of the biggest mistakes in recent football history when they sold a 22-year-old Aubameyang to Saint-Etienne in 2011.
The Gabonese striker has since become one of the most feared marksmen on the planet while AC Milan have been crying out for a player of his calibre.
Aubameyang spent four years at Milan as a youngster – and he impressed, too.
As a teenager, Aubameyang starred in the Champions Youth Cup in 2007, scoring against every team Milan faced.
But he never made a senior appearance for the Serie A giants, instead spending his time at the club across various loan spells in France before leaving for a measly £1.62m.
Declan Rice (Chelsea)
While Chelsea have finally started using their talent factory recently, plenty of young stars slipped through the net.
One of them is West Ham ace Declan Rice, who has emerged as a full England international in the last year.
Rice joined Chelsea as a seven-year-old in 2006, quickly becoming best mates with current Blues sensation Mason Mount.
However, he was released eight years later in 2014, and West Ham wasted no time snapping him up.
Like Boga, the Blues have reportedly registered their interest in re-signing Rice as they look to correct their error.
Danny Rose (Leeds)
Rose was caught up in Leeds’ dramatic relegation from the Championship to League One in 2007.
With the Whites entering administration and in desperate need of funds, a 17-year-old Rose joined Spurs for just £1m.
Since then, he has enjoyed a spell as England’s first-choice left-back and become a regular in a strong Tottenham side.
Paul Pogba (Man United)
When Pogba left United for Juventus in 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson said: “It is disappointing. I don’t think he showed us any respect at all, to be honest. I’m quite happy that if they [footballers] carry on that way, they’re probably better doing it away from us.”
Some might say the legendary Red Devils boss was right all along, given the seemingly constant problems surrounding the Frenchman since his return.
But one thing’s for certain, United paid the price for letting him go.
They had to fork out £89.3m to bring him back to Old Trafford in 2016 having let him go for less than £1m, as ordered by a tribunal.
Harry Kane (Arsenal)
The Tottenham star 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.”
Serge Gnabry (Arsenal)
He has done pretty well for a bloke Tony Pulis once decided wasn’t good enough for West Brom.
The former Arsenal academy star, also deemed surplus to requirements at the Emirates, showed once again how wrong the Gunners were to sell him with a masterclass at Tottenham during Bayern Munich’s stunning 7-2 victory in the Champions League earlier this season,
He followed that up with a brace against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge during their 3-0 defeat in the last-16 – and Arsenal could certainly use some of that form in London.
To make matters worse, the Gunners only got a measly £5million for him when they sold him to Werder Bremen in 2015.
The 24-year-old has since gone on to win Bayern Munich’s 2019 Player of the Year award and become a regular international for Germany.