Federico Macheda was meant to be the next big thing at Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford, but now finds himself stranded in the Italian second tier

Back when Federico Macheda burst onto the scene in 2009, the forward was compared to Cristiano Ronaldo by Alex Ferguson. However, seven years on, the 25-year-old’s career has failed to hit those heights, with Macheda signing for Serie B side Novara just two days after Ronaldo won his fourth Ballon d’Or.

The Italian underage international was snapped up by United by Lazio at just 16, and a year later was catching the eye of Ferguson before being named on the bench for the Champions League quarter-final.

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Ferguson was astounded by his talent, predicting him for great things as he entered his first full season at Old Trafford.

“Macheda is top drawer, a hero in the making, just as Cristiano was,” Ferguson told reporters.

“It is hard to believe he is just 17. We probably need to check his birth certificate because I reckon he is at least 28.

“He does not have the lightning reactions of Ronaldo but he is quick around the box and he has an eye for goal.”

Macheda failed to live up to the hype, playing just 19 league games in six seasons at United, and after loan spells to a number of clubs including Sampdoria and Stuttgart, was offloaded to Cardiff City.

Similarly, he did not light up the Championship with the Bluebirds, and even failed to make one league start in his second campaign with Cardiff.

#BenvenutoInAzzurro, le prime foto in Azzurro di Macheda a Novarello#Novara #SerieB pic.twitter.com/NZKVAmtEq1

— Novara Calcio 1908 (@NovaraChannel) December 14, 2016

In August, his contract was cancelled by the club, but a new start beckons at 25, with Italian second tier club Novara taking a gamble on the former wonderkid.

Macheda has signed an 18-month deal at Novara, who hope the forward can provide the goals to push them into a promotion spot in Serie B.