20 Defender Çaykur Rizespor Iraq
2014 has been...
Ali Adnan Kadhim, the Asian Young Footballer Of The Year 2013 could be forgiven for wondering why he hasn’t quite arrived just yet. The nephew of former international striker Ali Kadhim, Ali Adnan's rise has generated huge excitement in the Persian Gulf and well beyond. At the age of 18, the young left back became the first graduate of legendary coach Ammo Baba’s Baghdad based football academy to gain honours as a full international.
After dazzling at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2013, Kadhim was subject to interest from a raft of Europe’s big names. Perhaps sensibly, he opted to take up an offer from Çaykur Rizespor, stating that he felt quite at home living in Rize, a port city in North Eastern Turkey.
The move was unquestionably a smart one. Rather than find himself trapped in the confines of an Under-21 squad in Italy, Spain or England, Kadhim has had the opportunity to play regularly in the Turkish Super Lig. Over the course of 2013/14, he did very well too. Impressive throughout the season, his all action displays did not go unnoticed and an impressive close to the campaign, in which he scored four times in three matches, was particularly noteworthy.
The summer arrived with the prospect of an impending transfer likely, but a combination of factors have ensured that didn’t happen. Despite their mid to lower table status, Rizespor have been no mugs in placing an appropriately high value on their star man, which has stopped several potential suitors in their tracks. In addition, we have heard (unfounded it must be said) whispers that several clubs have run into issues when trying to work through the red tape required for bringing an Iraq born player into the fold. It might just be waffle though.
As it stands, the impressive Kadhim remains at Rizespor where he has continued to play regularly, but his form has tailed off a fair bit this season. Did he expect to be elsewhere by now? Maybe, but it won't be long until a move does occur.
The latest intelligence from Iraq reliably (and we use a host of caveats with that claim) informs us that Kadhim will indeed move on in January, and that an English club will be his next destination. Quite which English club that might be is open to debate, but it’s more likely that he will move to one of the bigger outfits, and a subsequent loan elsewhere, rather than hitting up the first team for a mid to lower table Premier League or Championship club.
In the meantime, Kadhim needs to get back to what he does best, but recent months have been more about what happens off the pitch rather than on it. Appearing with members of the Iraqi armed forces and condemning ISIS was a praiseworthy move, but it felt a little too 'publicity' rather than substance. The impromptu trip home and subsequent photo shoot seems to have been a surprise to his employers too.
On the pitch, Kadhim has a huge amount going on. Quick, strong and possessing - what we are by law required to describe as - a ‘sweet’ left foot, his effervescent displays are quite something to behold. Oh, and he can REALLY catch a free kick, but take the whole 'Asian Gareth Bale' thing with a large dose of salt. For the time being at least.
There are kinks to iron out though and as impressive as he has been on occasion we have to take the level he's played at into account. Kadhim has shone against some of Turkey’s less well known names, but has yet to finish on the winning side against big cheeses Galatasary, Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe. An acid test maybe, but if you’re going to be the world star that many hope, you’re going to need to be able to turn it on when required, regardless of opposition.
Headline grabbing is one thing, but defensive duties mustn’t be neglected and we've seen a few ricks. We’ve also heard an awful lot of chatter from regular watchers wondering whether Kadhim has any interest in being a team player which is a big worry. He’s idolised to the point of deity status in his home country and recent events suggest there's definitely a risk of ‘Charlie Big Potatoes’ syndrome kicking in. All the talent in the world, but you haven’t made it yet, son.
Overall it’s been a year of steady progress, but there’s an indication that 2015 really could be lift off if, ironically, Kadhim can remain grounded. Stay tuned.
"Adnan went missing for a few weeks in Iraq, he was pictured in military garb fighting ISIS but it was more likely a publicity stunt. He had a great start to the season but has missed a few weeks due to international duty. Rizespor want a high asking price but if he keeps this up I cant see him staying their for too much longer." - Emre Sarigul
"Having played at least 85 minutes of his last 35 games in the Super Lig, Ali Adnan Kadhim hasn't managed to last 30 minutes of the last two (red card and substitution)." - OptaJoe
C Keep working, listen, stay humble.
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