Chelsea FC: Why Gael Kakuta is the French Freddy Adu
Gaël Kakuta's talent shone so bright for Lens that Chelsea recklessly engaged in a recruiting process, which gave the footballing public an insight into the dodgy business of tapping up youngsters.
Several years later, Kakuta hasn't developed into the superstar the Blues expected him to become.
He rose to infamy when he was caught in the middle of a bitter transfer dispute between Lens and Chelsea.
"Chelsea took him even without international clearance," said then Lens general manager François Collado to The Telegraph. "I explained the FIFA rules to Peter Kenyon and told him: 'You're risking a fine and a transfer ban'."
Chelsea underestimated how much influence then French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes wielded.
He was disgusted with the anecdote Collado gave him when the Blues attempted to short-change Lens, a club with no financial muscle.
"Chelsea said take this and shut up," recounted Collado to Matt Lawton and Simon Cass at The Daily Mail. "I rejected it and said 'watch out gentleman'."
Failing to heed to Collado's warning—Kenyon probably thought it was an empty threat—Chelsea stood firm on their position as Kakuta had been a Blues player for two years.
"We had alerted FIFA against such misbehaviour," Escalettes told Reuters. "We discussed the Kakuta case and those transfers of young kids which are ruining football."
Lens were looking for more money and Chelsea wanted their reputation cleared, so both clubs negotiated an agreement, enabling the CAS to overturn the FIFA DRC's original decision.
All promise, no production
Kakuta made an instant impression upon training with the first team.
"Kakuta is a fantastic player, the best at the club in terms of skill," said John Obi Mikel via Gerry Cox at The Telegraph. "We train with him every day and the sort of things he does come naturally."
Kakuta was voted the 2007-08 Academy's Scholar of the Year after he registered 12 goals in 24 youth games.
Yet, instead of moving forwards, he went backwards.
"He is the only one good thing for tonight," Carlo Ancelotti said after Chelsea's 2-2 draw to APOEL via The Telegraph. "He will be the future of Chelsea."
Ancelotti's expression of approval for Kakuta was out of the blue.
Donning the No. 44 shirt, he gave away possession 26 percent of the time he tried a pass, the most for a Chelsea outfielder.
He only created one shot, five less than Joe Cole. How many dribbles did Kakuta complete? Zero.
In one game, Adam Phillip (now known as Adam Coombes) scored the same amount of goals Kakuta did in the entire Premier Reserve League South season (3).
Nemanja Matić, Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini and Josh McEachran were more assertive than Kakuta.
Loaning him to Fulham was fraught with danger because if he couldn't do a Andreas Weimann look-at-me at reserve level (the Austrian was top scorer in the south division), what were the chances of Kakuta beating out Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey?
The loan to Bolton Wanderers was an unmitigated disaster.
How do you go from being France's next big thing to sitting on the bench for Owen Coyle?
Kakuta had no business playing ahead of Chris Eagles or Martin Petrov, which is why Coyle never gave the Chelsea loanee a Premier League start.
When Arsenal sent Ryo Miyaichi on loan to Bolton, presumably as a replacement for Kakuta, who Chelsea reassigned to Dijon, the Japanese made an impact giving Blues management more concern over their once highly touted French prospect.
He scored and created a combined six goals in 12 starts for Dijon but it was impossible to turn a blind eye to his dismal decision-making.
He led Ligue 1 in being dispossessed of possession per game (4.6) compared to Eden Hazard's 2.7, who was one of the biggest risk-takers in the league.
Did you know that 475 players in France's top-flight completed a higher percentage of passes (65.5+) than Kakuta (65.4)?
Matić, Tomas Kalas and Slobodan Rajković made rapid improvements on loan at Vitesse, so sending Kakuta there was a sound idea, meaning Blues management had put the Frenchman in a position to succeed for two successive loan spells.
PSV scored 103 goals in the Eredivisie this season, which gives you an idea how attack-minded Dutch football is.
Nope—he didn't score against them. This was also the case when Vitesse put 10 past ADO '20 in the Dutch cup.
At least with Jonathan Reis, you can point to substance abuse being the reason for the Brazilian wasting his career.
What's up with Kakuta?
The French Freddy Adu
What's one trait Kakuta and Adu have in common? Low intangibles.
Former Vitesse manager Fred Rutten persistently scolded Kakuta for not being professional.
When former Lens manager and scout Joachim Marx was lavishing praise of Kakuta to Simon Cass at the Daily Mail, Marx paused and gave the French prodigy a pass on being lazy: "Perhaps one criticism was that he didn't try very hard sometimes in training—because he didn't need to."
When you watch someone like Marco van Ginkel, you see a player that wants to dominate, whereas Kakuta's aloof, docile and languid playing style is a source of constant frustration.
Like Adu, everyone was inflating Kakuta's ego to the point where he took his talent for granted.
Without hard work and dedication, you're only asking for a decrease in performance.
The hype surrounding Adu and Kakuta were manufactured due to their superlative displays at youth level.
When it came to making the next step up, both have fallen considerably short of expectations, whilst still maintaining the same sense of entitlement they had as juniors.
Adu, 24, has played for nine different clubs.
Kakuta, who is three years younger, has played for six separate teams and no longer yearns to entertain the Stamford Bridge faithful.
"I don’t dream about Chelsea any more," he said via Tony Little at The Sun.
The outlandishly gifted 16-year-old dribbling extraordinaire Jeremie Boga is dreaming of becoming a star.
His manager Dermot Drummy and Blues supporters around the world will be hoping he doesn't end up being the next Kakuta.
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