normally, i wouldn’t just write a post based on a single-sourced rumor on the internet. i like to do my homework a little bit: research other sites to see if anyone else is reporting the same thing, read a good deal on the background of the involved parties, try to gain some sort rationale for why this rumor might actually be true. but i’m throwing that all out the window tonight.
according to the sun, everton are lining up a loan move for landon donovan in the january transfer window.
yes, i’m fully aware that the source of this rumor is hardly a reliable source. and i lied a little bit, too. after reading this article, i tried desperately to dig up some other source saying that landycakes might actually be making his fourth stab at european success; most of what i found came from the blogosphere, though some other tabloids offered a similar story. but the point i’m trying to make here is that i decided to write this after only having read the article from the sun.
that doesn’t change the fact that this move has to happen. donovan is without doubt the best player the USMNT has (sorry dempsey: until you look like you give a rat’s ass about playing 100% of the time, i’m not sold on you). and he is most likely is the greatest footballing talent this country has ever produced (aside from giuseppe rossi, who i’m going to stop talking about before i stab myself in the face). but, my personal opinion is that he is wasting his potential talents by playing in a league that is below his capabilities.
as has been well documented, donovan has tried and failed in his three attempts in europe/germany so far. though it’s not all his fault:
- his move to bayer leverkusen at the ripe age of 17 was at first a very positive move, undoubtably aiding in his development into the player he is today. however, he was never happy with his situation with leverkusen and requested a temporary loan move to MLS. whether he was homesick, or unhappy at breaking into the first team, we’ll have to speculate. but you can’t blame a kid for wanting to come home at such a young age.
- after honing his skills (and padding his confidence) in a productive four year loan to the san jose earthquakes, donovan returned to leverkusen. but after just seven games with the german outfit, and limited opportunities for playing time, he requested to be sold back to MLS. this time was his fault: for lack of a bette phrase, he bitched out. he was used to being a star in MLS, being guaranteed playing time, having the all the attention, etc. but once he was back in germany, he wasn’t a star and had to fight for his spot for a change. his lack of persistence and fortitude in that situation made me lose a lot of faith in him. landycakes was born.
- after returning to play for his hometown l.a. galaxy for another productive four year stint in MLS, landon decided it was time to test the european waters again. after impressing during a trial with german giants bayern munich, he was a signed on a three month loan. it was totally unsurprising that he had got little playing time for bayern, seeing as how they are one of the biggest clubs in the world and have world class strikers at their disposal (miroslav klose, lucas podolski, luca toni). the club let him return to MLS after his loan ended. in my opinion, this was the right move (back to europe) to the wrong club. he should have gone to a smaller side where he would have had realistic chances at significant time on the pitch and contributing to the team.
that’s not to say he hasn’t had a very productive career in MLS. in fact, donovan has been one of the top players in the league his entire time here (my other nods go to columbus’ barros schelloto, new york’s juan pablo angel, and salt lake’s kyle beckerman). he’s had a great goal scoring record domestically, scoring 98 goals in 208 appearances. three time’s donvoan has been on the MLS best-XI, and was named MLS player of the year this year. more importantly, he’s improved his confidence and developed into a leader.
but i can’t help but be disappointed in him. he’s got so much potential in those boots, and i feel like he hasn’t realized that full potential yet. you see flashes of that potential from time to time, most notably in the later stages of last year’s confederations cup. but how many times have we seen him fade into obscurity in big matches for the USMNT?
donovan needs to push himself to realize his full abilities. he needs to be challenged for his spot on the field. he needs to fight for his starting spot week in and week out. he needs to face top level defenders to make him a better player. that’s not happening in l.a., or anywhere else in MLS for that matter. the only place that he will get that competition is in a top-tier european league.
enter david moyes, in for the rescue… hopefully.
and the more i think about it, this move makes perfect sense for everyone involved:
- the toffees are cash strapped at the moment, and will have little to no money to buy players in the january transfer window. a loan move for donovan will cost the club little, and donovan’s pay (assuming it stays the same as it is for the galaxy) isn’t that much in the big scheme of things.
- donovan is looking for a team that can offer him at least a chance to prove himself in europe. if he can be a valuable addition to a struggling everton side, as well as make a good showing during next summer’s world cup, he could earn himself a permanent move to a move to any number of european sides going into the 2010-2011 season.
- everton are in crisis mode. at the time of writing, they currently sit only three points above the relegation zone. they desperately need someone to come in and play a creative role for them, something they’ve lacked with mikel arteta remaining sidelined with a knee injury. their current attacking line is thin, and will be getting thinner with anichibe and yakubu leaving for the african cup of nations in january. the injury prone louis saha is their lone star producing right now, on loan brazilian jô is temperamental and playing poorly, and james vaughn is inexperienced.
- it’s no secret that donovan is a versatile player, and that could also prove very valuable for david moyes’ side. he can fill in for forwards should injuries or absences require it. he’s more than capable on the wings, especially on the left. and his best position is in the hole behind the striker(s), where he could tandem with tim cahill in arteta’s absence.
- throw in that they are still in the europa league, and the FA cup yet to start, a crowded fixture schedule could provide landon with ample opportunities to impress. another bonus? landon is not cup tied in any single competition, which makes him that much more attractive when compared to other players from england and europe.
- he will find life a bit more comfortable on the blue side of liverpool: he knows the language, it’s not as culturally different as germany is, and fellow USMNT standout tim howard minds everton’s net, so he already has a friend in the side.
- a move to goodison park will give donovan ample experience against the english national side’s defenders. this experience could be of immense value at next summer’s world cup, considering the USMNT first game is against the three lions. he would likely face all of the potential english starters in a horrid january/february schedule including: arsenal, man city, chelsea, man united and tottenham.
sure, MLS will be reluctant to let one of their most recognizable faces go. but even the league heads know that they’ve been lucky to have donovan as long as they have. and any potential sale to a european side next summer could result in a major financial boost for the league. so it would really benefit all the parties involved.
our national team desperately needs this move to happen, as donovan is the one essential cog in the team’s succes. when landon plays well, 90% of the time the whole team plays well. and if he can gain that extra experience, that extra edge, from playing with and against such great players
donovan needs this move to happen. he certainly needs the experience, the competition and the chance to shed his “landycakes” moniker. it could raise his game to the level we all know he can reach.
and lastly, i’m praying this happens. landon needs to move to everton if for no other reason than i don’t like i don’t like making fun of him as much as i do (well, except for his humming bird tattoo… i’ll never stop making fun of that). i want him to become the first truly great american soccer player, and time is running out for him to develop into that type of footballer.
but mainly, more than anything, i just want to stop being disappointed in our best player.