Whether you want to call it simply a case of a team saying what its fans wanting to hear, or an actual case of battle lines being drawn, Landon Donovan’s very public desire to make a move to Europe could be leading Donovan and the Galaxy toward a showdown.
Donovan has stated repeatedly and very clearly in recent days and weeks that he wants to go to Europe. He feels it is time to make the move and is eager to leave this winter. Galaxy president Tim Lieweke and head coach/general manager Bruce Arena have both stated that Donovan isn’t going anywhere.
"I believe that landon Donovan is going to be playing with the LA galaxy in March," Arena said on Thursday. "The words that Tim Lieweke said on Monday are accurate.
"We’re again adamant about the fact that we’ve got to get this club headed in the right direction," Arena said. "One of the easiest ways to get that accomplished is to have two great players like beckham and donogcan on the field.
"We certainly desire, want and demand that they’re going to be playing with us in march."
While you certainly can’t blame the Galaxy for wanting to keep their best player, there is also the fact that Donovan has given the Galaxy four years and an MLS Cup title and wants to leave. Can the Galaxy really just ignore that and try to play hardball?
It might seem like Donovan doesn’t have much of a say since his contract has multiple league options, but he certainly can let his unhappiness be known and could start making things difficult? How? Take the U.S. national team for example. Next summer the U.S. team will play in two tournaments, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Confederations Cup. Donovan could choose to play in both, as well as in any other FIFA calendar date friendly, rather than asking to be left off of national team rosters to play for the Galaxy, which he has done in the past.
Something else to consider is what a battle over Donovan wanting to leave could do to the league’s image among American soccer players. Are top Americans really going to lock themselves in to long term contracts knowing that they will have no say in future tranfer possibilities? Will MLS consider this and consult with the Galaxy?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Donovan transfer situation is the possibility that the Galaxy might have no other choice but to sell him. If MLS doesn’t increase the salary cap by a considerable amount, and doesn’t grant a second designated player slot per team, the Galaxy might find itself without much room to improve the team. LA might have to seriously consider how a Donovan transfer might allow the Galaxy to strengthen the squad in other areas.
It is obvious that Arena and the Galaxy are hoping that the league changes its rules heading into the 2009 season for a variety of reasons, but especially because it would allow the team to keep Donovan.
Will things get ugly? It’s tough to imagine Donovan going too overboard. He has already tempered his statements with the disclaimer that he will have no problem playing for the Galaxy of no transfer deals materialize, but you have to wonder how long it would be before his patience would run out.
What is my take? I’ve always been a proponent of the belief that a player should be allowed to leave if he wants to leave. Selling Donovan and building the team around Beckham might not be the worst strategy in the world, and a potential transfer for Donovan could help fund the rebuilding of an LA roster that needs a massive overhaul.
What do you think of the Donovan transfer situation? Think the Galaxy will grant his wish? Do you see LA playing hardball? Do you think Donovan deserves the chance to leave?
Share your thoughts below.