Freddy Adu claims he was 'better than Angel di Maria at Benfica'

Ex-USA wonderkid and Football Manager icon Freddy Adu claims he was ‘BETTER than Angel di Maria when they were both at Benfica’ and reveals ‘biggest regret’ was leaving Portuguese side on loan

  • Freddy Adu signed a professional contract at 14 and big things were expected  
  • After appearing in the MLS, Benfica signed him for £1million back in 2007 
  • But he struggled in Portugal and when he left the American’s career fizzled out 
  • He says he was better than Angel di Maria when both were at Benfica together 

Freddy Adu believes he was a better player than Angel di Maria when the pair were both at Benfica together. 

Adu has endured a disappointing career after plenty of early promise having signed his first professional contract age 14, while Di Maria has thrived and still performs at the top level with PSG. 

The former USA international impressed in MLS with DC United and Real Salt Lake as a teenager and earned a £1million move to Benfica, but that was where his progress began to unravel.

Freddy Adu (left) believes he was a better player than Angel di Maria (right) at Benfica

Di Maria has gone on to achieve great things at top clubs but Adu’s career went the other way

He was cherished by players of Football Manager and even voted the greatest wonderkid of all time in the simulation game.  

But in reality, he struggled in Portugal and was loaned out to Monaco, then Belenenses, Aris and Caykur Rizespor. Adu’s career has since taken him to Brazil, Finland, Serbia and most recently Sweden with Osterlen FF. 

By contrast, Di Maria has shone on the international stage with Argentina as well as playing for some of Europe’s biggest clubs in Real Madrid, Manchester United and PSG.

But Adu thinks he had the edge. ‘The biggest mistake I made in my career was leaving Benfica on loan to Monaco,’ Adu explained on The Blue Wire Podcast. ‘I say it from the heart. It was one of those decisions that, if I could take it again, I wouldn’t make it.

Adu, pictured here in 2017 for Portland Timbers, never lived up to the early potential 

‘I had three coaches in a year in Benfica. The club was in such a dysfunctional moment that I just wanted to get out of there and go the other way as soon as possible.

‘But it turned out to be the worst decision. I joined the club at the same time as Di María. In the first year, I was better than him.

‘I played better than him, but I decided to leave for Monaco on loan. And Di María stayed at Benfica. And guess what? He had the chance to play with a coach who later came and became a starter. 

‘A year or two later he went to Real Madrid. And I ended up being loaned to a secondary team.

The forward played for the United States but thinks he could have achieved much more 

‘I made the worst possible decision for my career. It is my biggest regret.’

Adu has 17 international caps to his name but never managed to recapture the brilliant goal-scoring form he had at the junior levels. 

He is on his 15th club of his career and the forward’s consignment to obscurity contrasts with Di Maria’s continued elite level at the age of 32.  

Aside from the disappointing spell at United having joined from Real for £59.7m, he has excelled and boasts a packed trophy cabinet. Di Maria has a LaLiga title, Portuguese title, a Champions League and four Ligue 1 crowns. 

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