13 February 2006

Supplying Demand


One of the interesting questions regarding the entire Chelsea after Adu situation is "Where did these rumors come from, and why now?" While that question may not be definitively answered yet, the number one suspect has to be Adu's agents (this should be considered seperate from Adu himself and Adu's mom.) John Haydon in the Washington Times bites on the idea that Adu could anchor a revamped Chelsea youth system:

The London club realizes if it's going to stay on top, it can't just keep forking out giant transfer fees of $45 million for big-name stars. Instead, it must build a strong youth team similar to the Manchester United youth team of 1992...While the suits at the MLS office in New York have made all the obligatory denials about Adu not going anywhere anytime soon, they are secretly delighted about all the exposure their prized asset is getting. The question is whether they will make the right decision before the novelty wears off.

Then came more rumors that the aforementioned ManU was in talks to acquire Adu, talks that have since been denied directly by Manchester United and Sir Alex himself. The denial sheds some light as to where this is coming from:

The player's agent, Richard Motzkin, was quoted over the weekend saying United and Chelsea want to bring the 16-year-old to the Premiership.

The implication is that Motzkin is playing a game to keep his client in the headlines. Neither Chelsea nor ManU seem to be ready to bring Adu over, and I doubt they would do so before Adu turned 18. Paying a huge sum for him now would be a bit strange, even if you buy Hayden's idea that it would be used to rebuild the Blues youth system, given the not-so-gentle mocking of Chelsea's balance sheet going on in England. However, if Motzkin can raise the idea that both Chelsea and ManU are interested in Adu, it could create a market for the Freddy larger than his talent would dictate. There could now be an interest in acquiring Adu simply so your rivals don't. Motzkin might also imagine that this places pressure on MLS/DCU to give Freddy his minutes. MLS might want to showcase Freddy to ensure a high transfer fee. DCU can now hear the audible ticking of the clock on Freddy's US Days

What seems at odds here is Freddy himself. His desire is to make the National team, and to do that he needs first team minutes. To that end, his positive repsonse on returning to DCU's camp and working with Piotr Nowak make total sense. Nowak might be on a slightly tighter leash this year, but it is still hard to imagine him bowing to external pressures to play someone. Furthermore, I can't imagine Kevin Payne dictating such a decision to Nowak. So Freddy is saying the right things, playing good-cop to the bad-cop of his agent. Interesting to say the least. My sense is that this is all smoke, no fire, and until Freddy is close to turning 18, none of this will amount to much. However, Motzkin may have managed to inflate the market for Adu's services, and in so doing has served his client well. What's more, by keeping this on the other side of the Atlantic for the most part, he has managed to do it in a way that doesn't put Adu in a bad situation at home. Now Chelsea and ManU will let the idea stew in their heads a bit, and Freddy is probably poised to have his best domestic season yet. The dollar value calculations could increase. The point isn't to get Freddy over to Europe now, but rather to make him more marketable at a later date. He becomes LeBron James - The guy who everyone knows someone is going to take a risk on despite his young age, the question is merely who and how much. Skillful. At least, if my theory is right as to what is going on here.