Freddy Adu's On the Move to Greece
It's unknown whether in his travels U.S. midfielder Freddy Adu has ever had time to read the epic.
Wednesday Adu -- the one-time much ballyhooed future savior of American soccer -- continued his personal odyssey across Europe, signing an 18-month loan agreement with Aris of the Greek Super League.
Adu's move to Greece is now the third separate loan agreement reached since he moved to Benefica in 2007. It comes after he was loaned out to another Portuguese club -- Belenenses -- earlier this year. Adu tweeted in August that he had high hopes about the Belenenses loan, but he only appeared four times and when the club brought in a new manager, the writing was on the wall for him to find yet another temporary employer.
Moving to Aris ends speculation that Adu was coming to the Premier League in England where he was linked to a possible move to Hull City, where he would have joined another U.S. international -- Jozy Altidore.
Instead, Adu is going to Aris in Greece where he'll join another American player who's been roaming the proverbial European wilderness for the last couple years -- Eddie Johnson -- who joined the club on a loan last week from Fulham. Amazingly enough now Aris -- a club that most Americans probably didn't know existed until the final day of 2010 -- holds the immediate future to a pair of U.S. players who at separate times during the last decade where hailed a the future of the U.S. National Team.
Instead, both players have fizzled.
Adu never evolved from the insanely hyped 14-year-old prodigy, who at the time was considered such a can't miss player that he was filming Sierra Mist commercials with Pele while suiting up with D.C. United. Since moving to Benfica in 2007 Adu has never played first team soccer, getting a mere 11 appearances sandwiched around fizzled loans to AS Monaco and later Belenenses. At the same time he's been a sporadic member of Bob Bradley's U.S. team, tantalizing fans in brief flashes with his ball skills, but ultimately finding himself on the outside looking in of the squad.
In fact, Adu's reputation has fallen off the cliff quicker than Linday Lohan's movie career. The recently published "Soccernomics" by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski even labels Adu as a trademark bust and uses him as a quick example of how clubs shouldn't put too much stock in teenagers.
Now with the Adu-hype machine running on fumes, if at all, he makes a move to the European hinterlands almost as if through the back door.
Will moving to Argentine coach Hector Cuper's surprisingly multi-national squad be the perfect tonic for Adu to revive his stalled career? Will moving to a place where fans will likely have little expectations allow him to mature and finally live up to some of the possibilities presented when he burst onto the sporting consciousness? More immediate, will it be enough to get him back on the radar for the U.S. 2010 World Cup squad? Or will Adu be destined to join the scrap heap of mega-hyped teenagers destined for the where-are-they-now file?
Perhaps the only answer today is maybe.
For all his struggles and lost seasons, Adu is still only 20 years old. He does have a unique skill set and technical abilities in the upper echelon of players -- just watch some of the tape from the 2007 U-20 World Cup. His prowess from free kicks alone is makes him at least a useful player in a squad. If he gets playing time in Greece, perhaps he'll develop physically enough to compete against grizzled professionals.
Then again, three different clubs have seen what Adu brings to the table and essentially said, "Thanks, but no thanks."
For reasons beyond his control, Adu could be the product of being born in the wrong era of soccer. Had he played in the 1980s or 1990s, he could have been a devastating bowling ball of a player, impossible to take off the ball in the mold of low-to-the-ground players like Diego Maradona or Edgar Davids -- both players shorter than Adu's listed height of 5-foot-8. However the trend in the last decade across soccer has been larger, more physical players making the success of players like Lionel Messi and Andrey Arshavin rarer and rarer, or at least pushed to the wide margins of the field.
Does Wednesday's move to Aris give us any more answers to what the future holds for Adu?
Not really, as his personal odyssey to grown into the player everyone said or wanted him to become, continues.