Even those who fulfil their very best potential and enjoy many years at the peak of the game can find themselves cast aside when their ability starts to dip.
Planet Sport highlights ten former Premier League stars who have gone from top clubs to being without a club.
Ahmed Elmohamady - 34
Egyptian Elmohamady first arrived in the English top flight in July 2010, when Sunderland signed him on a season-long loan deal from ENPPI in his homeland. Then aged 23, the right-back went on to enjoy 12 seasons in England, spending eight in the Premier League and four in the Championship with Sunderland, Hull City and Aston Villa.
He made 407 appearances in English football, reaching the final of the FA Cup with Hull in 2014 and the final of the League Cup with Villa in 2020. However, with Villa having cemented their position back in the top flight at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, they opted to move on, releasing Elmohamady as his contract ran out.
Branislav Ivanovic - 37
Another full-back, Serbian Ivanovic enjoyed a thoroughly successful nine-and-a-half seasons with Chelsea after joining them from Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2008. He had previously played for Srem and OFK Beograd in his homeland, but it was at Stamford Bridge where he truly made his name.
He represented the Blues in 377 matches, making him one of only five foreign players to turn out in more than 300 games for the club, and won ten major trophies, with three Premier Leagues and a Champions League among them.
He departed Chelsea on a free transfer in 2017, returning to Russia with Zenit St Petersburg, though that would not be the end of his time in England. A free agent after leaving Zenit in July 2020, Ivanovic returned to the Premier League on a one-year deal with West Bromwich Albion, though his time was far more short-lived and considerably less successful, making just 15 appearances in all competitions as the Baggies were relegated.
Carlos Tevez - 38
Amid all the goals he netted while in the Premier League, Argentine Tevez certainly caused a splash off the field as well as on it. He arrived in England with West Ham United, signing from Corinthians in Brazil after the 2006 World Cup, before moving north to join Manchester United a year later.
He then famously jumped ship to sign for fierce local rivals Manchester City after two seasons at Old Trafford, before departing England with a £12million move to Italian champions Juventus. He concluded a seven-season spell in the Premier League having scored 107 goals in 247 appearances.
Diego Costa - 33
Brazil-born Costa arrived in the Premier League after moving from Atletico Madrid to Chelsea in a £32million deal in July 2014. He was another whose time in the top flight was dogged by rifts and fallings-out, but he still enjoyed a fine four seasons in West London.
Costa played 120 times for the Blues, scoring 59 goals and won two Premier Leagues and the League Cup. Fell out with manager Antonio Conte after being told he was no longer part of the Italian's plans via text message, an event which led to him leaving Chelsea. He formally returned to Atletico in January 2018 and most recently represented Atletico Mineiro in his homeland.
Jack Wilshere - 30
One of the more naturally-gifted English midfielders in recent years, injury-plagued Wilshere was never quite able to fulfil his potential, but it is testament to how high that potential was seen to be that he still enjoyed a more-than-acceptable top flight career with Arsenal, AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United.
He came through the Arsenal youth academy, going on to make 197 appearances in ten seasons with the club, with a season-long loan at Bournemouth coming in 2016/17. He left the Gunners on a free in July 2018 and signed for West Ham, though made only 19 appearances in just over two years. A five-month return to Bournemouth followed, but after being released by the Cherries in May 2021, he no longer has a club.
John Mikel Obi - 34
Another who notably made his name with Chelsea, Nigerian Mikel was signed by the Blues from Lyn, in his homeland, in June 2006. It was a transfer drenched in controversy after Manchester United claimed they had also signed an agreement with him. Nevertheless, his time in England may have begun on rocky ground, but went on to be thoroughly successful.
During his 11 seasons at Stamford Bridge, the midfielder made 372 appearances, scoring six times, and he won nine major trophies, including two Premier Leagues, and the 2012 Champions League. After leaving Chelsea, he had two separate spells back in England, with Middlesbrough and Stoke City in the Championship, but he will be long remembered by English fans for his exploits in west London.
Laurent Koscielny - 36
French centre-back Koscielny also made his name in England at a London club, though he is associated with the north of the city rather than the west. Having previously represented Guingamp, Tours and Lorient in his homeland, he arrived at Arsenal in July 2010, and went on to make 353 appearances in nine seasons.
He was crucial in ending the Gunners' decade-long trophy drought in the 2014 FA Cup final, and went on to win three more major trophies, before returning to France to join Bordeaux for £4.6million in July 2019. He left Les Girondins in January 2022 after a dispute about his wages.
Mo Diame - 34
France-born Diame spent a decade in England with four different clubs, proving a reliable option as an effective midfielder. He joined Wigan Athletic from Spanish outfit Rayo Vallecano in August 2009, and the remainder of his time in England took in West Ham United, Hull City and Newcastle United, before he departed in 2019.
Nine of his 11 seasons were spent in the top flight, though he did drop to the Championship between 2015 and 2017, winning promotion in both seasons - firstly with Hull through the play-offs in 2016, and then automatically with new club Newcastle the following year. He ended his time in England with 342 appearances in total for that quartet of clubs, and his most recent employer, for two years up to summer 2021, was Al Ahli in Qatar.
Ramires - 34
Rather a lot of former Chelsea players here, aren't there? Just the latest such example of a former Blue is Brazilian box-to-box midfielder Ramires, who became known to English audiences after spending six seasons at Chelsea between 2010 and 2016.
He arrived in west London from Benfica, and went on to make 251 appearances for the club, alongside winning five major trophies, including the 2011/12 Champions League and 2014/15 Premier League. He left Chelsea for £25million in a move to Jiangsu Suning of China, before returning to Brazil to play for Palmeiras, who were his most recent club, and whom he left in November 2020.
Winston Reid - 33
New Zealand is far more associated with rugby union, but that hasn't stopped the country producing some fine footballers. Winston Reid is one who enjoyed a career at the top level of English football, as a defender for West Ham United.
He moved to east London in August 2010 from Danish outfit Midtjylland, and in the ensuing decade, went on to make 222 appearances for the Hammers. His time at the London Stadium began to wind down with two loan spells, to Sporting Kansas City and Brentford, respectively, before he departed the club by mutual consent in September 2021.