To succeed on the international stage, a player has to be getting consistent minutes with his club team. The guys that are playing regularly are sharper and more in form, both mentally and physically. They also stay on the radar of Bob Bradley.
Freddy Adu is running out of clubs in Europe willing to give him a chance, which is why this January transfer window, he should make his way back to MLS.
Since leaving Real Salt Lake in 2007, Adu has been on the roster for four clubs: Benifica, AS Monaco, Belenenses and Aris. Technically, Benifica owns his rights and he is on loan to Aris, but both clubs are dead ends.
Adu has a year left on his deal with Benifica, but ownership has said that they are willing to loan him out again or allow him to leave on a free transfer. Aris management has deemed him a “surplus” and wishes to cancel the rest of his loan deal with the club.
Since his ousting at Aris, he has trained with Swiss side FC Sion and Danish club Randers FC, and is now on trial with German second-division team Ingolstadt. His latest European venture seems to be just as fruitless as the others, with team coach Benno Mohlmann not a fan of his chances with the club that has scored only one goal in its past 14 games.
“Basically, Freddy is certainly an interesting player, but one who couldn’t really help us in the current situation. If a contract does come about, it will depend on his consultants. Freddy would have to accept a path through our second team,” he said to a German newspaper.
Playing for a reserve team on a floundering club in a second division in Germany will not get Adu playing for the United States’ Men’s National Team any time soon. He needs to come back to MLS, where it all began, to regularly play first-team football.
Anyone that would say Adu is a bust would be foolish. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, especially with the youth national sides. He also played well in the previous Gold Cup, even scoring a goal in the tournament.
He’s also still only 21, so there is still plenty of time and room for improvement. He just needs to play. Coming back to America won’t make him a failure either.
Landon Donovan started out with a German club. Unhappy with his role there, he was loaned to the MLS at the age of 18. He returned to the Bundesliga four years later. He played in only seven games, which led him to state his desire to return to the MLS. Bayern Leverkusen granted his wish, and since then, Donovan has become arguably the best player the U.S. has ever produced.
He hasn’t made a permanent move back to Europe, but he has been on the verge of a move. More importantly, he got his playing time, developed, and is now the main guy for USA.
There’s no reason to think that Adu can’t make a similar progression. But he has to come back.
There are teams that would take him and play him, and those teams—and the league—are better than some of the sides and leagues he’s been training with.
The biggest hurdle will potentially be the salary. MLS is notorious for relatively low salaries comparative to the contracts European teams can offer. It’s also hard to imagine that any team would use a Designated Player spot to acquire him.
But no one else really wants him, so the ones that do aren’t going to offer him a heck of a lot of money anyway.
Adu has to accept his fate. What he’s doing now is not getting the job done.
It’s time for Adu to get back on the field, and he will be able to do that in America. His only other option is to continue his trial tour across Europe, which has yet to yield him a job.
If he doesn’t find a spot soon, the once promising young star could fade out into obscurity.