It’s full-on transfer season – queue frantic trading of established players and those described as ‘ones for the future’.

More often than not these teenage sensations who are tipped as the next Zidanes or Michael Essiens fail to realise their potential. Here are five of these prodigies who promised great things but didn’t really deliver.

Gaël Kakuta

When Chelsea football club incurred a fine and a transfer ban all for the sake of securing Kakuta’s signature from Lens in 2007, you would have bet the club had unearthed a guaranteed star.

Gael Kakuta is tackled by Paulo Jorge of during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Chelsea and Apoel Nicosia at Stamford Bridge on December 8, 2009 © Jamie McDonald/Getty

Instead, Kakuta failed to establish himself at Chelsea despite early signs of promise.

Macauley Chrisantus

This young man took the 2007 FIFA U-17 tournament in South Korea by storm, netting seven of the goals that propelled the Golden Eaglets to victory.

Macauley Chrisantus (L) celebrates after victory over Germany in a semi-final match of 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Suwon, 06 September 2007. Nigeria defeated Germany 3-1 © AFP PHOTO/Kim Jae-Hwan/Getty

Nine years on, and the player highly tipped for glory currently plays for a Catalan club whose main claim to fame is bearing the same name Reus as German international Marco. Macauley’s career trajectory could not have been any more different compared to Toni Kroos, who won the Golden Ball at the same tournament.

Dominic Adiyiah

Dominic who you might wonder? Adiyah wowed gold-coast fans and the world alike in 2009 with his performances at the FIFA U-20 tournament in Egypt which earned him the Golden Shoe and Adidas Golden Ball.

Dominic Adiyiah in action during the Serie B match between Reggina Calcio and Empoli FC at Stadio Oreste Granillo on October 23, 2010 © Maurizio Lagana/Getty

Such displays led to the inevitable transfer to a big European team; AC Milan, whom he eventually left in 2012, having never featured for the first team. Or did he? His uncanny resemblance to countryman Sulley Muntari means it’s difficult to prove.

Freddy Adu

Too much was placed on this young man too early. Born in Tema, Ghana, he is probably the biggest example of a childhood prodigy whose career literally fell off the cliff. After signing for DC United aged just 14, he made a string of impressive displays in the MLS and was a poster boy for sports giant Nike.

Freddy Adu controls the ball against the Columbus Crew on August 20, 2011. Columbus defeated Philadelphia 2-1 © Jamie Sabau/Getty

Today Adu is on the roster of Tampa Bay Rowdies, and although he is still only 27, it may be a good idea for him to hang up the boots and focus on making hoover ads, which sent Twitter into rib-cracking furore with the tagline ‘No mess can beat me thanks to my new @HooverUSA Cordless 2-In-1 Stick and Handheld Vacuum’.

Eric Djemba Djemba

The Cameroonian arrived at Old Trafford back in 2003 touted as a replacement for Roy Keane.

Years later, and after a string of sojourns at several clubs and allegations he held 30 bank accounts, a string of high-end cars, and most worrying of all, that he requested cash advances from Manchester United to pay off a mountain of debts. It is clear that the world of football for young players can confusing.

So, can Africa protect its rising stars to enable them develop without career crippling expectations? We’ll see.