Freddy Adu signs with Benfica

This is an unusual football post, but as a huge fan of SL Benfica it’s my main source of inspiration for today: Freddy Adu is heading to Benfica !

Freddy Adu
© Associated Press

Besides being a rising star that luckily will be traded with profit in 2-3 years, he’s also a cashcow in merchandising, with his Benfica jersey representing good sales in the States (he’s captain of US National Team).
Last year Kikin fonseca was the cover for Fifa07 Soccer game, and this year another high profile american player is signing. For a global brand such as Benfica, it’s a great move, and if football (soccer) reaches more audience/viewers in the US in the next years, it will be nice to know that my club has built such a big brand awareness.

Actually, this post might not be totally off-topic since Freddy is kind of an Internet phenomenon, with his YouTube videos with more than half-million views and having his own website.

I don’t know if it was the above video that convinced the team to sign him off, but it surely had importance.

Which brings me to some final questions: how do scouts and sports teams use the Internet? Could YouTube replace global scouts? Should player agents invest heavily on Internet PR?

If you have interesting thoughts or examples regarding the use of Internet on sports PR, please drop a line in the comments.

22 thoughts on “Freddy Adu signs with Benfica

  1. I’m definitely not a football fan but as I watched the youtube video I kept thinking that the US football league appears to be on par with any minor league in Portugal. I mean, the defenders don’t even bother to go after the ball.

    In my opinion (and I won’t even bother to check whether I’m right or wrong, later on) he’s in for a very rough ride here in Europe.

  2. Whether he might have a tough journey in Europe we’ll wait and see.

    For me is rewarding enough the marketing side of the deal: with a chinese player (Yu Dabao) and a US player, i guess we’ve covered the largest markets, right?

  3. I think the web will not be able to replace scouts. One thing is viewing a couple of videos, and this was a common practice in the 80’s. But videos tend also to show certain strengths of the players and hide their weaknesses.

    Other thing, in the Adu’s videos is that he-s always playing and dribbling against weak defenders, that cannot mark well.

    I also find odd the transfer fee: 2 million euros. That’s very low, for a talent as good as those videos tend to show. Maybe there is the obvious risk on playing in a more serious championship, like ours. Here, at least, except Sporting’s Ronny, there are defenders who can mark well.

    I recall in the early 90’s a similar example of this kind of player: Nii Lamptey. Played in Aston Villa for a couple of years, but never convinced.

  4. As a Benfica fan, I am very pleased with this transfer. Of course he will most likely need some time to adapt. He is without a doubt very skilled and young. Taking into account he will develop those skills even more and gain some very important experience, I can’t see were Benfica and Freddy can go wrong with this deal.

    I think the US National team will also benefit from this. Taking into consideration the large Portuguese comunity in the US, and having Freddy playing on the by far biggest team in Portugal, can bring an even bigger empathy between these parts.

    I also agree with the marketing aspect. I wouldn´t be surprised if now you were to see more Benfica Freddy Adu shirts than there were ever DC or SL shirts in the US. To add to what Armando said, there is also another point to be made. I also think that he will bring people to the stadium as soon as he settles in and starts to spread his skill.
    Freddy,welcome to the biggest club in the world!!! It’s Guiness who says it.
    Saudações Benfiquistas 😉

  5. I know this player since his first appearence… he as been in all the latest games fo Championship Manager and Football Manager.

    I think that for the brand of Benfica, nobody as doughts that it will be great. But i´ve been reading the USA newspaper and all them say that he has´t prove nothing in the MLS. Are u living in the USA? what do you think?

    Saudações Benfiquistas

  6. Hey, 4th generation Portuguese-American living in the USA. I’ve seen a lot of Adu.

    First a correction: Adu is the US U-20 skipper. He only has one full international cap for the American senior team.

    Is he disappointing? Watch some of the video of his recent U-20 world cup goals on YouTube and decide for yourself, but I think he has immense latent talent – an eye for goal that can’t be taught.

    It is true that he has not shown the same form for his clubs as he has with the junior national side, but I’d argue the bigger reason that he went for so little is that he does not hold an EU passport, so the work permit would have been a problem.

    I would urge Benfica fans to keep things in perspective. He is a gifted young player with a lot of promise, but still a very young player and bound to be inconsistent at first. Give him time.

    I think he will develop nicely at Benfica (much better than he would have at Chelsea). The league suits his technical style, and the team and support is world-class.

    As for Benfica’s image in the US, outside of Portuguese and other soccer communities, remember most people don’t follow the game. Adu is known mostly for being such a young athlete.

    Still, who knows where he could take the brand? He was the closest thing we have had to an American soccer star when he was only 14, and has visibly improved his play. These are exciting times.

  7. Freddy is a great player. Anyone who watched the U-20 World Cup will know that. He is still developing and will do well at Benfica. Remember Cristiano Ronaldo developed there for several years before arriving at Manchester United. He is now considered one of the top 2 players in the world. The league in Portugal is great at developing individual skill. I see Freddy ending up in the Premiership with Chelsea or Man. U. or maybe even Fulham, as they love American players. Many thought Ronaldo was over-rated, as well. Good on ya for the forsight, insight and inspiration.

  8. @ Stephen Santoro: Cristiano Ronaldo developed in Sporting, not in Benfica.

  9. @ Armando Alves: Trying to dismiss the emotional aspect of soccer in this discussion is limitative, in my humble opinion. The major aspect that make it easy to advertise Adu or any other player is the passion for the game, the rivalry and even this kind of demonstrations displayed in the previous comments. You can’t dissociate these. Got to deal with them. 😉

  10. for some reason my thaughts were pulled i guess its jus a reaction to the truth… sporting……….no hate but adu isnt simoa’s left leg…

  11. Could you please keep your replies focused on the marketing question i kindly ask near the end of the post.


    1) I’m not a 4th generation Portuguese-American. I’m living in Lisbon and was born at Vale de Cambra, near o’Porto.

    2) Nothing against Sporting Lisbon: In fact, my ad agency does all their advertising. You can always search youtube for “Garra Centenária” to check it.

    3) If you’re here for hooligan-like comments, then it might not be the place for you. Club forums and sports sites are a better place for that. I’m here to discuss “ideas on advertising, creativity, online marketing and the web”.

  12. Damn right the emotional aspects are important! but perhaps not at a post where i highlighted my questions, predicting that a flame war might happen.

    I’m very keen on “fan culture” and the social aspects of it, but i try to focus on the marketing features of it, trying to have a bipartisan view (not choosing sides).

    Or perhaps i’m just trying to get a different perspective than traditional sports media have. Am i wrong? Is it different? Perhaps.

    Just don’t turn the comment flow into a flame war of who’s better/who’s worse, or start calling names at each other. As i said, lots of club forums, chats, hey, even twitter.

    Speaking of twitter, do you know any sports star that uses the service?

  13. Maybe Pélé was wrong wen he told that Adu was a great player!!! Adu has only 18years old, how could a boy of 14, wen he started, be the major star of MLS? That only shows that MLS does´t have such great players that could advertise the ligue in the rest of europe and world.

    In the question of marketing and brand value, Benfica is already wining, because all the medias reported the transfer of the once called “the new Pélé”. Of corse he will not be able to do better than Simao, but he is only 18!!! And he still has to adapt to our football an style life that is very diferente from the USA.

    Have you alredy imagine Adu comunicating with Mantorras.. or with Petit? It takes time…

    Saudações Benfiquistas

  14. Anyone that follows soccer here in the US will admit that MLS is not on the same level as some of the top tier leagues in the World. However, I’ve heard many outsiders (both from the US and abroad) completely bad-mouth the MLS’s talent level, and that’s pure ignorance.

    First of all, the Portugese league has what, three or four large clubs? The Dutch have maybe four well known clubs? And even in the Premiership, there is a huge drop-off in quality after the first 10 teams. MLS teams will match up pretty well with some of these lower quality 1st division international teams. And by the way, Adu has been very disapointing in the MLS. Its very physical here, and the players are usually much larger than Adu. Also, Americans so far have developed their defensive skills faster than their offensive skills.

    Lastly, if there ever is a time when someone outside of the US thinks of our game, I hope they do not think that Adu is our best. Like another person commented already, he has only one appearance on our Men’s National team so far. I’m more excited about Jozy Altidore.

    Nevertheless, I wish Adu and Benfica the best of luck. Soccer is a great game.

  15. also i very doubt that they used that video it is just showing you all his good things

    and get real, real scouts will not go trawling through youtube looking for football players

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  17. Uma pergunta, és português?
    I’m a Benfica fan too.
    i was sad becaz Simao was sold, but now im happy becaz Adu seems better than him 😀

    best regards

  18. CPinto has no idea what he is talking about.
    MLS is a good league. The US National team beat Portugal in the 2002 World Cup and the majority of US players in that word cup played in MLS.

    The USA reached the quater finals of the last 3 U-20 World Cups, again with mostly MLS players. Therefore, to say the MLS is on par with the Portugese minor league is utter nonsense. How come then Benfica couldn’t beat Toronto FC, probably the weekest team in MLS? Friendly game or not, the best team in Portugal, against the poorest team in “Minor League” MLS and the result was 0-0? Why didn’t Benfica win if they were only playing the poorest team in a “Minor League.”

    Message to all “real” soccer fans. Watch Freddy Adu’s goal against Poland in the Under 20 World Cup and you’ll see a display of the talent this guy has. Not bad for a “minor league” player!

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