marketing bet, sports fiasco / One day, one transfer / Episode 49 /

marketing bet, sports fiasco / One day, one transfer / Episode 49 /



This summer during the transfer window, So Foot returns every day of the week to a transfer that marked its time in its own way. Episode 49 highlights the brief appearance of comet Freddy Adu in Ligue 1, in the jersey of Monaco. The young American arrives on the Rock with the status of a potential crack and his arrival represents an obvious marketing interest for ASM. On the pitch, however, he is light years away from confirming the immense potential he is credited with.

At first glance, all the ingredients of the success story typically American come together. This is the story of a kid born in a port town in Ghana. One day his mother wins at theUS Green Card Lottery, which allows the whole family to emigrate to the United States. There, the young boy shows crazy qualities with the ball at his feet and catches the eye of the older ones. It is rumored that Inter Milan is ready to offer huge sums to bring him to Lombardy, in vain. The prodigy remains in his host country, is first choice of the Draft in 2004, becomes professional at 14, international at 17 and therefore embodies the future of the Team USA. This story is that of Fredua (aka “Freddy”) Koranteng Adu. Rising figure of soccer, the DC United attacking midfielder is surfing on an impressive media-commercial wave. Nike managed to lure him into his nets when he was only 13 years old, with a contract of one million dollars. Here, we see him on CBS, in David Letterman’s “Late Show”. There, we see him in an advertisement for a soda, in the company of King Pelé. His departure for Benfica and Europe in the summer of 2007 is supposed to give another dimension to this hype already XXL. But his passage through Monaco, a year later, marked a sudden halt in this beautiful story.

“He is in my eyes one of the most talented players in the United States and as such will become the best ambassador of American football in Europe. » Jérôme de Bontin, president of the ASM

A new world to conquer

Until then hardly followed from the Old Continent, Major League Soccer suddenly attracted attention from 2007, when David Beckham arrived at the Los Angeles Galaxy. Not enough to skyrocket the level of a championship considered much lower than that of the European Top 5. But this career choice of Spice Boy and the enthusiasm aroused in the United States call out more than one: yes, there is a huge market to conquer across the Atlantic. Jérôme de Bontin knows this only too well. The man who succeeded Michel Pastor in April 2008 as president of AS Monaco also holds positions within the US football federation. And the Franco-American businessman intends to take advantage of the summer transfer window to enlist Freddy Adu. The young man had a mixed start at Benfica (two goals in eleven league games) but his room for improvement still seems enormous. “I’m taking a risk saying it, but he will remember Sonny Anderson with this ability, on his talent, to lift the spectators and win games on his own” , dares the Monegasque leader when presenting his new 19-year-old recruit, loaned for a season by the Lisbon club. Above all, the one that terrifies the fierce fans of the Football Manager game is likely to generate new attention and attract potential investors from North America. “In my eyes, he is one of the most talented players in the United States and as such will become the best ambassador of American football in Europe” promises De Bontin again.

Always accompanied by his broad smile, Adu participates without complaining in the interviews and marketing operations planned in his agenda. Asemist supporters are eager to discover the phenomenon on the ground. They will quickly become disillusioned. Absent at the start of the season because he was involved in the Olympic tournament, the American attacking midfielder entered the game for the first time against Caen at the end of August. For three short minutes. He obtained eight the following week in Grenoble, then eleven against Lorient. Ricardo will never establish him in the league, and for good reason: the 1.70m player has absolutely no level to evolve at this level. His technical shortcomings are glaring, and some observers also believe that the “new Pelé” does not even have the qualities required to win in the CFA. The apogee of his Monegasque work takes place opposite Bordeaux, just before the holidays. After replacing Alexandre Licata a quarter of an hour from the end of a breathless meeting, the American international clears a ball for a corner when no one is pressing him. The Girondins equalize on this corner kick and end up winning (3-4). End clap for the Red and Whites for Freddy Adu, whose purchase option would have been exercised if he had played at least ten league games with the Principality club. Its counter will remain stuck at nine, and it is certainly not by chance.

“This loan to Monaco is the biggest mistake of my career. » Freddy Adu

The first stage of a long way of the cross

The win-win strategy advocated by Monaco with some of its recruits at the time – the club offers itself new marketing prospects, while the player makes a name for itself in Europe – is crowned with success with Park Chu-young, author successful exercises on the Rock before being transferred to Arsenal. With the young American, on the other hand, the failure is painful. “Adu arrived late because of his participation in the Beijing Olympics, where he was one of the best players. But when he arrived, Pablo Pino was walking hard. Result, Adu played little. And he lost confidence , laments Jérôme de Bontin, who left ASM in a hurry in February 2009. In the wake of his Monegasque flop, the native of Tema returned to Benfica, then multiplied his experiences abroad, from Greece to Sweden, in passing through Turkey, Brazil, Serbia or Finland. A long and painful way of the cross, during which the former DC United is far from meeting the immense expectations placed in him at his beginnings. Was it seen too good too soon? Was he too weak mentally, or not hard enough? There is probably a bit of all of that. In any case, the person concerned is sure of one thing: “This loan to Monaco is the biggest mistake of my career. I say this from the bottom of my heart. If I could go back, I wouldn’t make the same decision.” , he lets go in 2020, when he plays in Österlen (Swedish D3). Before adding: “I joined Benfica at the same time as Di María and the first year I was better than him. » Things have obviously changed a lot since then.

By Raphael Brosse
Words by Jérôme de Bontin from the JDD and of Monaco Hebdothose of Freddy Adu taken from the ” Blue Wire Podcast ” .


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