The Curious Case of Freddy Adu

Just like Brad Pitt’s life in the 2008 movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Freddy Adu’s career seems to be moving backwards.

At the tender age of 14, the American forward was regarded as one of the most promising players the MLS and the football world have seen. His precocious talents didn’t go unnoticed and Nike rewarded him with a $1M endorsement deal.

Inter Milan and Manchester United were among a long list of suitors, but the interest never materialised. Perhaps it was still too soon for him.

Despite a lacklustre stint at Real Salt Lake City, Adu moved to Europe in July 2007 for $2m. His new club: Portuguese giants Benfica.

The early-years hype raised hopes of a phenomenal introduction to European football. But not only did Adu fail to make any impact, he also managed to raise a bigger question: is he even good enough to play at the highest level?

After a total of 129 minutes in the domestic league, his days at Estádio da Luz looked numbered and he was loaned to AS Monaco. However, hopes of a career revival foundered as he only made a handful of appearances at the French side.

This summer he requested a move to a smaller club from a second-tier league (Danish side Odense was rumoured to be interested in his services), but he has ended up staying in Portugal, on loan to Belenenses.

Freddy Adu may still be 20, but one has to question whether his career is already over. Finding the answer to why such a promising starlet wasn’t able to cut it isn’t easy. Was he a product of the media? Was he nurtured in the best way? Are youth squads in America and CONCACAF any good when compared to their European counterparts?

There have been rumours about his ‘real’ age, and even though it's odd that his height today is the same as it was six years ago, there’s no (f)actual evidence of age fraud.

However, the truth is that just as he has apparently stopped growing taller, so Adu has stopped developing as a football player; his decision-making hasn’t improved and his ability to bamboozle defenders has gone.

But even worse is the fact that nobody seems to be willing to give him a chance. That may apply to Belenenses, too: five games into the season, Adu still hasn't played for the the team.

Freddy Adu left the States in search for his “European dream”. He may well return empty-handed.

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