When Liverpool paid £1m to sign Samed Yeşil in August 2012, it was widely acknowledged that the Reds had secured one of the stars of the future.
The young striker had certainly caught the eye. 25 goals in 29 games for Germany’s youth teams shows that he had an eye for goal despite his tender age, so fans were delighted when the deal was agreed to bring him to Merseyside from Bayer Leverkusen.
He was prolific for his country, and just as deadly for his German club. In the two years prior to joining the Reds he hit an impressive 57 goals for Die Werkself‘s youth sides, earning the nickname ‘Gerd’ from his teammates – a reference to the legendary Gerd Müller. No pressure, then.
He had already appeared for Leverkusen’s senior squad at the age of 17, playing five times at the end of the 2011/12 season under the management of Liverpool legend Sami Hyypiä.
All this meant that big things were expected when he made the move to the north west of England. Promising performances in back-to-back League Cup appearances against West Brom and Swansea City triggered more excitement. Little did we know, a cruel twist of fate would mean that Yeşil would never play for the first team again.
His first goal for the u21s came against Crystal Palace that December, but soon after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament while on duty with Germany’s u19 side and his debut season in England was brought to a premature end.
His recovery was surprisingly quick and Reds fans were pleased to see him back in youth team action in October 2013, but he then suffered the same injury in training and, for the second consecutive year, his campaign was over.
After two years of sitting on the treatment table, unable to play, train and improve, Turkish-German’s progress was stifled. Goals here and there for the youth team once he was finally back were ports in the storm, but it was clear to see that he was very much behind other players his age.
A season-long loan at Swiss side Luzern in 2015/16 was intended to gauge the impact that injury had had on his ability, but it proved to be a similar story to his time at Liverpool. After a promising start, goals – and playing time – dried up and he managed just one strike in 14 appearances.
It was decided that he wasn’t good enough to stay at Anfield, and he was released by the club upon the expiry of his contract in June 2016.
It has since been proven to be the right call. Yeşil, now 25, last turned out for KFC Uerdingen – a German 3. Liga side, not a branch of the popular fried chicken chain – and finds himself without a club after being released in the summer.
No-one knows what might have happened if those two crippling injuries hadn’t struck. But they did, and Samed Yeşil now serves as living evidence that you can have all the talent in the world, but you need a dash of luck to make it as a football superstar.