Morning speculation has given way to afternoon publicity. After whispers early Thursday that Freddy Adu was about to sign in Serbia, the SuperLiga’s FK Jagodina is ready to take the plunge. According today’s announcement on the club’s website, the final details are being ironed out in a deal that will land the American midfielder in the Balkans.
Adu has recently been on trial in the Netherlands and with Blackpool in the English second division. Now the increasingly exotic list of clubs that dot the former prospect’s résumé is about to add an another name. Jagodina’s set to be the 10th club in the 25-year-old’s 11-year career, not counting trials.
Jagodina finished third in last year’s SuperLiga, albeit 23 points behind second place Partizan. The finish earned the Blues a chance to qualify for this years Europa League, an opportunity lost when they were defeated by Romania’s CFR Cluj in the second play-in round.
Though the team has never won a first division title, Jagodina have made the last two Serbian Cup finals, winning the trophy in 2013.
For those holding out hope Adu can still make an impact for the United States, today’s news is a discouraging reminder of where his career has done. At the same time, it’s also a credit to his agent, who continues to find places willing to sign the former prodigy. While you could argue the player’s stature (or, standards) has made him into a vagabond, his representation continues to find new places willing to buy into the hype.
That may sound weird from this half of the world, where the hype died out a long ago, but consider the nature of Jagodina’s announcement. Even before officially signing the former U.S. international, Jagodina’s promoting his mere arrival. The tour of the facility? Meeting executives? It’s all up on the website. If something falls through as the sides work out the details? At least the club got some publicity out of it.
Is Adu a player that can close the gap between Jagodina and Partisan? Probably not, but is this a player that can get the club mentioned throughout international soccer media? In the United States, at least, yes.
Perhaps Adu’s not a pure publicity stunt, but he’s a dice roll that comes with some unique benefits, and for an ambitious club that’s gone from the third tier in 2007 to three straight Europa League qualifying appearances, it may represent the next step in the club’s progression.
And only 25, it may yet represent a chance to progress for Adu, too.