Published reports out of Europe and the United States today indicate that Freddy Adu is headed to Aris Salonika FC, the leading club in Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki. (Although currently PAOK is performing better than Aris in the Greek Super League)
Once again, Adu has managed to find himself transferred to a well supported club with a history of making European continental competitions. Much like Adu’s moves to Benfica and Monaco, Aris is a well respected club that has taken a chance on the American youngster.
But questions continue to linger about Adu’s overall quality. While his technical skill has been very good from a young age, his work rate and ability to integrate into a squad has been almost always limited. Some question Adu’s willingness to listen to his coaches, and others insist he is too small and not physical enough to cope at a high level of club football.
Despite these criticisms, Adu’s play for the USMNT has not been as universally poor as some skeptics like to claim. For example, in three matches against high caliber opposition (England in 2008, Spain in 2008 and Costa Rica in 2009) Adu’s time on the pitch showed him have a great impact on the pace of the match and show qualities no other US player on the pitch in those games possessed. But those moments have been far and few between, and the player’s overall attitude seems to be questionable.
Adu’s maturity can also be called into question with his almost routine Twitter outbursts. Like his youth national team-mate Jozy Altidore, Adu uses Twitter as a place to vent frustrations about his coaches and playing situation.
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Aris is a good move for Adu if he is really as talented as some of us believe he is. But another big failure at a well supported European club in a decent league would spell the end of his ambition to be a relevant national team or European club player.
Freddy is out of chances after this one. Aris has taken him according to reports on a one and a half year loan from Benfica, so he will no doubt have an opportunity to work his way into the squad on a long term basis. Aris has a cosmopolitan blend of international players whose talents should compliment what we believe to be Adu’s strengths.
Additionally, Eddie Johnson’s loan move to Aris should smooth over any rough spots for Adu as far as comfort level. The Greek Super League has previously seen a number of CONCACAF players far well, such as Nery Castillo and the late Antonio De Nigris.
I still believe Freddy Adu is a phenomenal talent, one whose qualities were largely unappreciated by American coaches at all levels. But even I, one of his greatest supporters believe another failure at a respectable European club could spell the end of our high hopes for the players.
Adu is soon to turn 21, and by this age most great internationals that have been prodigies show significant progress for both club and country. The move to Aris could be Adu’s last chance to be the type of impact footballer we all believed he was destined to be.