The biggest will-he won't-he race rat surrounding the New York Red Bulls since Brandon Allen looks to be continuing on. Adam Najem will be returning to college for his senior year and will continue at Akron in the fall.
Najem turned down a homegrown deal with the New York this winter before it was reported that he was forgoing his senior year to go pro in Europe. Najem subsequently went on training stints with European clubs including Deportivo de La Coruña B, home to Canadian international Samuel Piette. However, since he never engaged the services of an agent or signed any professional deal, Najem maintained his college eligibility. Thus, when the right European move did not come together, Najem was free to return to Akron and see out his senior year with the Zips.
As it stands, Najem is widely considered one of best, if not the best, midfielders in college soccer and one of the most pro-ready players in today's college ranks. Between Najem rejecting New York's offer in the winter, his apparent interesting in playing European soccer, and rumored tensions between the club and the Najem family over their apparent treatment of his brother, David, another former academy player, it seemed increasingly likely that New York had missed out on the talent Adam Najem had to offer.
Yet, David Najem was recently signed by New York Red Bulls II, stating in an interview with the club that, "(t)he organization has always been good to me and my family. My brother's been a part of this organization since he was a kid as well so I mean they're just great with us and I'm really happy with the type of relationship we have with all of the guys." With bridges apparently mended and European interest not up to snuff, it looks increasingly that the talisman of Clifton could be staying in New Jersey.
Nothing is for sure. Adam Najem is currently playing PDL soccer with the Michigan Bucks instead of playing with the New York Red Bulls U23 team, but he is reported to return some time this summer for training with the team. He currently has four assists in five games for the Bucks, and when you consider his 28 goals and 24 goals in his three years at Akron it is understandable why college soccer is excited to have Najem return this year.
With teammate Richie Laryea going pro, defensive stalwart Andrew Souders going to grad school, starting goalkeeper Jake Fenlason graduating, and rumors persisting as to Victor Souto's future, any success Akron finds this year will be in no small part due to captain Najem. And so the Zips go marching on.