Soccer America
Friday July 25th, 2008

AS Monaco finalized the loan deal that brings American Freddy Adu from Benfica to the French league. Jerome de Bontin, Monaco's French-American president, said Thursday that the club has an option to buy Adu for 5 million euros ($8 million) at the end of the season, and he was on the lookout to sign another American before the end of the French transfer window in August.

"He is the leading figure of a new generation of U.S. players," de Bontin said of Adu. "He is going to be an ambassador for the United States. I can picture Freddy Adu, for instance, as the one player who can do for U.S. soccer what Greg LeMond did for U.S. cycling when he won his first Tour de France. Let's be frank, U.S. soccer is unknown in France and in some ways looked down upon. Freddy and AS Monaco can change that."

De Bontin, who is overseeing all player transactions, said Coach Ricardo is also looking for a central defender, an attacking midfielder, preferably to play on the right side, and a forward. He said that Adu should get a chance to start up up front, where Monaco is rather thin. De Bontin added that it would be easier to find another American from within Europe rather than in MLS.

The French season starts Aug. 9 when Monaco faces Paris St. Germain, but Adu will in China with the U.S. Olympic team. He's happy that he's been given a chance to attend the Olympics.

"I know some players get held out by their teams," he said, "and sometimes they have to really argue with their teams, but this isn't one of those situations. I love the Olympics. This is a dream of mine."

Adu admitted his first season in Europe was a learning experience. Benfica went through three coaches, and he dropped out of the first-team picture when he returned from Olympic qualifying in March.

"If you're not in the coach's plans," he said, "there's hardly anything you can do to get back in."

Adu said he's looking forward to the challenge of playing in France.

"I know the French league is a lot more organized," he said. "The defenses are more organized. Obviously, you have your work cut out. You need discipline to get better."

Adu's goal for the next season is to establish himself at the club level. He said he was pleased to be picked up by a club like Monaco with its great tradition and long list of famous stars such as Thierry Henry and Jürgen Klinsmann.

"It makes you feel good to be wanted," Adu said, "and to be wanted by a club like Monaco, that's great. When you are wanted, that's all you can ask for."

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