27-Year-Old Poised For Imps Departure

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Yesterday’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Championship side Rotherham was revealing courtesy of much of the news that came out.

The loss is of no consequence to me. I’ll start judging in a week’s time, so for now, a game of football isn’t the most important matter. Instead, a couple of revelations were made, a couple of which I’ll write about today. I’m letting one bake, so I don’t write an emotion-driven piece, but when it comes to Hakeeb Adelakun, there’s little emotion involved.

It’s now been confirmed that Hakeeb Adelakun and the club are due to part ways. The three parties (club, player, and of course, agent) are working towards a resolution that will see him leave Sincil Bank, and that is hugely disappointing. Not from the point of him being a big loss, not from the view that the club have done anything wrong, but that a player who I rated highly when he arrived has been such a massive flop.

It’s not really surprising that Haks is free to leave if we can find a way to make it happen. It’s been the worst-kept secret of the summer. If you go on a pre-season tour and a player stays at home, he’s not going to be part of the plans. He hasn’t played a single minute of pre-season, and yesterday when the club were playing Rotherham, he was posting a story on his Instagram account that he was at a Wizkid gig.

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Hakeeb Adelakun should have been so much better. He was a good player for Scunthorpe at this level and secured a move to Bristol City, where he barely got game time. A loan spell with Hull was promising, but when he should have come here hungry, willing to work and resurrect his career. After a half-decent start, he capitulated. I recall him scoring against Bradford City, then again against Cambridge, and he looked every inch the winger we wanted and needed after Brennan Johnson. It was tough for him and Ted Bishop as they came here with huge boots to fill, but after a couple of outings, Haks just stopped having an impact.

The infamous incident at Carlisle put paid to his Imps career in my eyes. We were knocked out of the EFL trophy after conceding a goal whilst he was off the pitch having a drink of water. If a player fell into Michael Appleton’s bad books, he stayed there, and Haks was there long before that moment at Brunton Park after a series of poor displays. I recall Crewe away where we lost pitifully, and he was woeful.

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New manager, new start? It certainly was for Sean Roughan and Max Sanders, and when Haks started the first match last season, I thought it might be the same for him. That wasn’t the case – like Chris Maguire, he soon drifted out of the picture when we began recruiting, and a loan into League Two followed. That should have led to a Theo Archibald-style renaissance, but instead, he flopped at Gillingham as well. From there, it has to be concluded there was no way back.

Where does he go now? It’s up to the player, but on the final Saturday before the big kick-off, being at a gig rather than your club’s friendly is not a good look. He’s a big earner, as I understand, and a deal might not be as easy to reach as it was with a player suspended for betting irregularities. Haks could refuse pay-off terms and stay on the payroll for a season. It’s not a great situation.

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He’s 27 and should be in his prime. He’s played 143 matches at League One level or above, and he should be a valuable asset for any League Two club. He has to want it, though, and how he departs will paint a picture of whether he does or whether he’s fallen out of love with the game.

The worst thing for me is that Hakeeb Adelakun isn’t like Chris Maguire. I struggled with Maguire, he came across as belligerent and (in my opinion) a little bit arrogant. Haks doesn’t, not at all. He’s always seemed softly-spoken, polite, and almost a bit shy. I met him just after he signed and again at a sponsor’s event last season, and on both occasions, he was friendly but looked nervous. We never know what’s going on with a player, and in recent seasons we’ve seen plenty who have drifted from football for different reasons.

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I know this – Haks seems like a decent guy, but in two seasons, he’s played 32 matches, scored three times, and that’s not a good impact for a player of his stature. Few, if any, will hear news of his impending departure and think it’s the wrong decision by the club. I just hope he makes the right choices and finds a club where he can get some enjoyment from the second half of his football career.