USMNT / World Cup

Freddy Adu, what now?

The new coach at Belenenses in Portugal decided to release Freddy Adu back to Benfica recently. This can’t be considered a good loan spell because Freddy Adu rarely saw the field at Belenenses. His experience was very similar to his time at Monaco in France. Both of these loan stints have equaled or possibly surpassed his experience at Benfica, which was miserable. Freddy could certainly end up staying on at Benfica, but it seems likely that he will move on.

Freddy Adu signed a five-year contract with Benfica on or around July 30, 2007. Benfica paid a 2 million dollar transfer fee for Freddy to MLS. For me this suggests that Freddy Adu is in a bit of a tight spot. Although I don’t know the details of his contract with Benfica, I am willing to bet that Freddy would have to pay for an early release without the team’s agreement. In addition at this point he has a tarnished reputation and doesn’t seem likely to get any playing time at Benfica. Furthermore, regardless of why he didn’t get much playing time at Belenenses, he is most likely viewed as not capable of competing in the Portuguese first division. This suggests another loan offer from a Portuguese first division team won’t be forthcoming. So what does Benfica want to do with Freddy Adu?

Given that they signed him to a five year contract and paid 2 million dollars, which was a lot for an American at the time, I assume that they were hoping for a super sub and hot future prospect that they could sell on after a couple good years for Benfica. Two and a half years later they have a player with low confidence, a deficit of match experience, a fairly high salary, and a value most likely far below his purchase price. Benfica could try selling him, but probably wouldn’t get close to the 2 million dollars they paid for him. Benfica could try another loan deal, but I suspect most clubs in lower divisions or less popular leagues wouldn’t want to pay a large portion of his salary. Would Benfica want to cover the rest? Benfica could also just release him and try to work out a deal with Freddy to get some money back similar to what Nery Castillo did at Shaktar Donetsk.

If Freddy’s current ability is summed up by his performance at the 2009 Gold Cup, then I can’t see Benfica holding on to him and hoping that he improves enough while on the bench to recoup their investment. Maybe he will impress in training at Benfica and get some playing time. I doubt it. I have to believe that Benfica will look to offload him during this transfer window one way or another.

So where will Freddy end up? This depends in large part on whether Freddy will compromise on his current salary, and how high the non-EU minimum wage is in each European league. In regard to Europe Freddy Adu has to worry about two things. First, his current wage is probably more than what teams interested in him would want to pay. This was most likely the case in regard to his failed loan move to Odense BK in Denmark in August of 2009. In addition teams may not consider him to be worth the non-EU minimum wage for the team’s league. This suggests that Freddy would have to find a league where the minimum wage was low enough and reduce his current salary accordingly. There might also be a way that he could get a loan and pay Benfica the difference between what the new team would pay and his current Benfica salary.

It seems that a European move might not be in the cards at this point unless Freddy agrees to reduce his salary with Benfica and play in possibly Scandinavia or Eastern Europe. Although he could look further afield, I suspect he will be eyeing MLS. Of course even MLS seems like a tough option because as I understand it MLS does not like to pay transfer fees. I can’t imagine that Benfica will just release Freddy, so Freddy may have to pay Benfica to get a release. Maybe he could get a loan back to MLS. Either way Freddy is most likely going to have to take a wage cut because of MLS salary caps. If Freddy can work something out, then Philadelphia Union have the number 1 spot in the MLS Allocation Order. I think that would be pretty cool, and I think that Peter Nowak knows Freddy inside and out. If there is any coach, who could get him back on track, it is Nowak.

In sum, I think that Freddy Adu ought to take a pay cut, return to MLS at all costs, and play for the Philadelphia Union with his old coach Peter Nowak. If he has a stellar start to the MLS season, then maybe he could even squeak into the US National Team setup for the World Cup. It’s time to come back to the US and play in Philadelphia.

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