Nobody ever said things would be easy for Freddy Adu, but things are starting to get really tough for the young American playmaker.
Struggling badly for playing time for AS Monaco all season, Adu took the field late in a match Monaco was leading 3-2 against Bordeaux. A pair of Adu mistakes later, Monaco was dealt a painful 4-3 loss by Bordeaux and viewers in America watching on Setanta Sports were left wondering if, and when, things would start to turn around for Adu.
Here is a 19-year-old kid who has now gone a full calendar year without getting significant playing time on the club level, and may get even less than the scrapes he's been getting for Monaco after Sunday's disaster. The darling of so many American soccer fans who love his skills and seemingly boundless potential have to start wondering whether it is time to stop blaming coaches for not playing him and start accepting the possibility Adu isn't playing more because he isn't good enough.
This was the case at Benfica and is looking like the case at Monaco, which is why Adu needs to find a new club, someplace he will have the chance to play and develop into the player so many believe he an become.
It is unfair to expect a player his age to be the finished product, but what we can do is start to question whether Adu needs another move in order to start playing enough to really grow as a player. He has said in countless interviews that his time at Monaco is helping him grow as a player, but Adu's 15 minutes against Bordeaux showed us a player who didn't at all look ready for the pressure of a match against top-flight competition.
It is time for Adu to leave Monaco and find a club where he will play regularly. Such a move wouldn't be a case of a veteran giving up rather than fighting for his place, but rather a needed move by a young player who is still trying to find a good level to grow at. Fifteen minutes a month at Monaco isn't cutting it and Adu needs to accept that he would be better served plying his trade somewhere like the Spanish second division or Belgium, or perhaps with a smaller club in France.
You could argue that the battle for playing time Adu is going through at Monaco will only help him grow as a player. Yes, competing for a place can help a young player grow, but Adu just spent most of 2008 fighting a losing battle for playing time both at Benfica and Monaco and at some point his lack of playing time is going to hurt him far more than the competition for time will help him.
Has Adu really grown as a player in 2008? He certainly showed glimpses, whether in senior national team cameos, or with the U.S. Olympic team, but it can be argued that the glimpses he has shown are a testament to his natural talent rather than the benefits or results of the adversity he has endured on the club level. You could just as easily argue that his lack of playing time on the club level are the reason why we are still only seeing glimpses of greatness rather than real development and signs of Adu becoming a complete player.
Again, Adu is still just 19. That is easy to forget considering how long he has already been a pro and how long he has been dealing with the blinding glare of expectations and hype surrounding his career. It would be extremely premature to say Adu will never be good enough, or that he doesn't have the talent to succeed in Europe's top league. Special ability is there, but ability and potential aren't enough. They are not enough for the national team and they are not good enough for the European top flight.
This is why Adu needs to leave Monaco and find a smaller club or smaller league to play in. He is still just a teenager and there will be plenty of time to conquer Europe's top leagues in the future. Right nowAdu needs to go somewhere he will play and have a real chance to grow as a player.
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