Like any club, Newcastle United have seen a number of young talents go on to fail to make the grade at first-team level, with that transition from the youth ranks into the senior set-up not always running smoothly.
One notable example of a player who was unable to build on their early potential was Slovenian international, Haris Vuckic, with big things having been expected of the then-teenager after he was snapped up from Domzale back in January 2009.
Who is Haris Vukic?
The suggestion at the time – as per Sky Sports’ Pete O’Rourke – was that the youngster was ‘regarded as one of Europe’s brightest talents’, having even reportedly had a trial with Serie A giants AC Milan prior to making the move to St James’ Park.
With it undoubtedly representing something of a coup for the Magpies to have secured the forward’s services, Vuckic was then handed his debut for a League Cup tie at the start of the 2009/10 campaign, coming on as a substitute against Huddersfield Town.
While the 6 foot 3 playmaker was gradually eased into the first-team squad, he continued to perform for the Tynesiders’ U21 side, eventually scoring 14 goals and providing nine assists in just 31 games at that level.
That early impact ultimately saw the Ljubljana native awarded a new deal in January 2011 at the age of 18, with manager Alan Pardew stating at the time of that contract extension:
“Haris is a player with real potential who we believe could have an exciting future here at Newcastle.”
Pardew would also go on to laud the emerging star for his impact off the bench in a Carling Cup clash against Scunthorpe later that year, with the Englishman providing a glowing assessment of the midfielder’s talent:
“When I first arrived I remember the staff saying to me: ‘We’ve got a really good young player but he’s injured at the moment. This tall, nice, Slovenian guy [Vuckic] kept passing me in the corridor and smiling. Haris is such a nice guy.
“He’s a lovely boy [who] we’ve got big hopes for; he’s got tremendous technique. Haris needs to learn to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League but he’s only 19 and his potential is excellent. He’s got a really clever pass on him. It’s a pass about 85% of Premier League footballers couldn’t even see.”
Despite that potential, however, Vuckic would spend much of the next few years out on loan at clubs lower down the footballing pyramid, with arguably the only notable success having come during his time at Scottish giants Rangers, where he scored nine goals in just 22 games in all competitions in the second half of the 2014/15 season.
As it proved, the 12-cap maestro would ultimately make just 19 appearances back at his parent club in total as he failed to earn a regular role under a succession of managers prior to his departure in 2017, with his solitary goal having come in a Europa League encounter with Atromitos in 2012.
Where is Haris Vuckic now?
Having been shipped off to Dutch outfit FC Twente just under six years ago, the one-time Cardiff City loanee would initially struggle to make his mark in his new home, albeit while enjoying a standout 2019/20 campaign in the Eredivisie, after scoring 11 league goals.
That impressive season has proven something of an anomaly rather than the norm for Vuckic, however, with the struggling asset subsequently failing to score after making the move to Spanish side Real Zaragoza the following season, before spending the next 18 months or so at Croatian side, Rijeka.
That spell at what are now his former employers saw the towering asset record a respectable haul of 16 goals and six assists in just 43 games in all competitions, although the 30-year-old has since decided to leave European football in order to try his luck in Thailand with Buriram United – scoring six times since making the switch back in December.
To have moved to such an obscure league is perhaps somewhat telling of the decline that the previously highly-rated midfielder has endured since his early days at Newcastle, with his career perhaps a case of simply wasted potential.