While it has been known for about a week now, the Vancouver Whitecaps officially announced today the loaning of Sam Adekugbe to Swedish top-flight squad IFK Goteborg. The move comes after Sam spent the previous year on loan to English Championship (2nd division) club Brighton & Hove Albion FC, who gained promotion to the English Premier League. A London England native, It was suggested that Adekugbe wanted to return to Brighton but it appears that with the promotion to the top flight this was not going to happen.
The loan is a positive one for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Sam Adekugbe, as he was not going to get any playing time with the Caps for the remainder of the season. Goteborg is a solid club, finishing fourth in the Allsvenskan last season, but currently sitting in 11th halfway through this season. Looking over their most recent matches the squad looks stable at right back, but lacking consistency at left back. It seems that Sebastian Eriksson is their first-choice LB, but has been in and out of the lineup of recent. Although, other reports I read said that he was the team captain. I did not read about a recent injury to Eriksson (although my Swedish is not the best ;)), so I cannot comment too much on the team’s situation at LB. Regardless, it seems that Sam should get some opportunities to play, and against solid competition.
For some fans of the Whitecaps there is frustration as Sam has been seen as the left back of the future, but that has not come to pass. Some have noted that he has not been given an opportunity (since his injury) but it also has to do with Jordan Harvey cementing his spot at LB the previous few seasons. There is a silver lining to this loan however.
As Sweden plays on the same schedule as Major League Soccer, Sam’s loan is until the end of 2017 (aka, the rest of the MLS season). In other words, he would return for the beginning of the 2018 season. There is speculation that Harvey could wind up in LA next season, with the new expansion club, but I am not too sure of that. If that does occur, we could see Sam and Brett Levis battling it out for the starting left back position, with bench warmer Marcel de Jong moving on. With the price tag on de Jong ($140,000) and Harvey ($180,000) I could see either or both not with the squad next season, with the club going with cheaper Levis ($67,500) and Adekugbe ($85,000). Of course, the concern would be that if both young options fail, there is no veteran to step in. We all remember the horrors of right back in 2016. However, Sam is a lot more seasoned than Jordan Smith was, and is actually a left back, unlike Fraser Aird learning to play right back. While the fear may be there, I suspect reality will not match that fear.
Of course, my comments are all optimistic and it could be that Sam will never play for the Whitecaps again and will see a permanent move to Europe shortly. We will see. What are your thoughts? Like the move? Think he will return for next season?