Wednesday, December 3
Freddy Adu: Soccer star, good businessman
A few weeks ago Major League Soccer (the US' top league) announced the signing of Freddy Adu, the 14-year old, Ghanian-born but American soccer phenom. In MLS, players sign with the league, not teams, but Freddy will certainly go to DC United (he's from Maryland). To accomplish this, United will be given the top draft pick over Dallas, who "earned it" with the worst record (they'll get a player or case of balls or something). This signing has been met with wonderment by soccer fans in Washington and the US in general, and even got some mainstream press.
One of the surprising points was that it's a fairly long contract, reported generally at four years. I realize he'll only be 18 when it's over, but consider that the Brazilian Rivaldo, former world player of the year and current World Cup holder, is more or less washed up at 31, Basically, top level soccer is a young man's game.
But this makes it make sense - reports that the contract has a clause allowing him out if a team bids three million dollars for him. That's peanuts for a superstar player, and it makes so much sense for him. He can show he can cut it professionally, maybe even be a star at the MLS level, and then, at maybe 16 or 17, head to Europe. This way he could be in MLS in the run up to World Cup 2006, improving his chances of making the team, and head over there immediately afterwards, rather than cashing in now and languishing on someone's bench, having his growth held back. This is a good business move, and a sign of shrewd management by his advisers. I hope he's a smashing success - it'd help the national team - and the fact that he is making prudent decisions off the field is a good omen.