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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Portland Timbers star Fanendo Adi wants MLS to invest in young talent

Fanendo Adi's path to stardom with the Portland Timbers began in a small village in Nigeria, where he was discovered at 15.

Portland Timbers striker Fanendo Adi says Major League Soccer should stop investing huge sums of money in big-name older stars and concentrate on developing young talent in the league.

Adi, 26, joined the Timbers three years ago from FC Copenhagen and helped them to win the MLS crown in 2015, scoring 55 goals in 117 appearances to become the club's all-time leading goal scorer.

But he has watched on as some MLS clubs have spent heavily on wages to bring in aging internationals like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Bastian Schweinsteiger in that time.

Adi is making over $1.7 million in total compensation this season, but he'd like to see the wealth spread around a bit more.

Asked in an interview with KweséESPN what could be improved in MLS, he said: "It's a big country, and I don't think my opinion matters to anyone, but if I were the head of the league I'd stop signing old players and giving them millions of dollars, because you have a lot of young good players in the league... extremely good players in the league that need that money.

"So if you go and bring old players just because of the name and put them in MLS All-Stars, give them the best contracts, I don't think that's helping the league. I'd rather put the investment in the youth and make it possible for the youth to develop and become something tomorrow, for the States and for the league itself."

Fanendo Adi
Fanendo Adi is Portland Timbers' all-time record goal scorer.

Adi has 10 goals through 22 games this season, and he scored 16 goals each of the past two seasons, but he has never been named to the All-Star team.

"The way it's voted, or whoever chooses the player, it's [up] to the league and how they do it but that's not something that really interests me," Adi said. It's good for the players that get to go there but for the league I don't see any way it helps the league develop. That's just my opinion about it. The league is the league and I just have to respect whatever they put there.

"I'm not a player that fights for recognition or anything of that nature. I don't want to get into the voting or how they choose players to go for that but it can never be 100 percent correct.

"For me, it's just something I overlook and I play my game and try to help my team and try to do things to help the club that I'm playing for. Recognition? I'm happy the club and the fans recognize me."

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