Donovan must think hard about Everton move

December 10, 2009

Everton hope to complete the signing of Landon Donovan on loan from Major League Soccer’s L.A Galaxy, a move which has generated plenty of excitement among North American soccer fans.

The move makes a lot of sense for Everton manager David Moyes – it gives him no-risk attacking cover, particularly useful while Nigerian Yakubu Aiyegbeni is away throughout January at the African Nations Cup. What is less obvious is why a short term loan spell is a good move for Donovan.

The move is being reported as similar to Donovan’s L.A team mate David Beckham’s temporary switch to AC Milan but there is a major difference in the circumstances facing the two players.

Beckham is pushing himself through a gruelling 16 month non-stop season with no real rest because he has been forced into that situation by England manager Fabio Capello. The Italian has told the midfielder that he must be playing in Europe and be able to prove his form and fitness if he wants to make the World Cup squad.

Donovan is in an entirely different position and it is odd that he would consider copying Beckham. Donovan’s place in the U.S squad is absolutely secure and his coach Bob Bradley would be the last person urging him to go and play in Europe during a period of the year when MLS players are supposed to be recovering ahead of the new season.

What is driving Donovan’s possible move is not the World Cup or any thoughts about the U.S national team but his own lack of satisfaction with his club career.

Despite being the U.S’s all-time scorer and the winner of countless domestic awards, Donovan has yet to prove himself on the international scene. He has had three attempts at breaking into the Bundesliga (twice with Bayer Leverkusen and last year’s loan with Bayern Munich) and on three occasions he has been sent packing back to America having failed to make the grade.


Although he has frequently impressed for the U.S, European clubs have not been lining up to make offers for Donovan and at the age of 27, he must know that unless he moves soon he will be forever remembered as a player who scored in CONCACAF qualifiers and in MLS but who failed in Europe.

If that is the motivation for this move, then it begs the question, why a loan deal to the English Premier League and in particular to Everton?

Donovan is not a physical player and his game relies on his deftness of touch, intelligent passing and finishing ability. The feeling of many in the game was that he was ill-suited to the physical game in the Bundesliga. England is even tougher on that front.

Given Donovan speaks fluent Spanish and prefers the Latin style of football found in Central America, La Liga seems a more obvious home for him.

A loan deal may make sense for Everton – and possibly for MLS and the Galaxy – but for Donovan it risks a repeat of last year’s embarrassment at Bayern.

Given a tricky selection choice, a manager will usually consider the feelings of a full-time staffer more than a temporary loan player and Donovan’s reputation and market value would hardly be enhanced by a miserable month or two on the bench at Goodison.

If it all goes well it could turn out to be a wonderful move though – giving Donovan a chance to impress in the Premier League before shining against England at the World Cup and earning himself a big money deal with a big club.

Which scenario would you put your money on?

PICTURE: U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan arrives at a hotel in San Salvador March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Luis Galdame.


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Is it just possible that Donovan is aware of his reputation as a finesse player who has not done well in a physical environment? If so and given that the US has drawn England, a team that will be very physical, perhaps he feels it’s a good idea to throw himself into the fire that is the English Premiership. Where else can he get 3+ months of better or more intense training in preparation for the biggest match of his international career? Perhaps, in June, if he plays well for the Toffees, the Three Lions will find themselves in for a stern test in Rostenburg.

Posted by martinwhitehat | Report as abusive

Let’s not forget that Donovan plays in a very physical league in it’s own right. In terms of physicality and athleticism, MLS is up there with the English and German leagues. Technically and tactically, it still trails, but the hugely experienced Donovan is up to snuff in those departments to succeed. He’s not going to Everton (if that’s his destination) to see if he can make the grade. He’s going for three months of high-intensity training and games in preparation for the world cup. Look for him to leave Los Angeles after the 2010 MLS season or after the world cup if a European team comes after him with a blockbuster bid.

Posted by mkomard | Report as abusive