Donovan signs 4-year deal with Galaxy
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan, Major League Soccer's most valuable player, signed a four-year contract with a provision for an off-season loan overseas, the club announced Wednesday.
The loan period would last from Jan. 1 to March 15 and would ensure Donovan's return for the Galaxy's opening game March 27.
Financial terms were not disclosed for the contract, which runs through 2013.
"I'm fortunate," Donovan said. "Most soccer players don't get this opportunity to have the best of both worlds. I get that opportunity now, which is incredible."
In being named MLS's most valuable player, Donovan scored 12 goals made the league's Best 11 and led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup, where it lost to Real Salt Lake.
David Moyes, manager of Everton in England, expressed public interest in acquiring Donovan, who also is the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. national team.
"A loan deal has not been finalized but it'll likely be done with Everton," said Bruce Arena, the Galaxy's coach and general manager. "I think it's pretty much narrowed down to Everton."
Everton is tied for 15th place in England's Premier League. The three clubs with the fewest point totals in the 20-team league are automatically relegated.
"For Landon, Everton's a great situation," Arena said. "They're a club with a small roster. They have a number of injuries. They have a congested fixture schedule over the next couple of months. It's a great fit for Landon."
Donovan said that any new contract had to include a loan provision.
"The Galaxy made it clear very early that they weren't going to sell me," Donovan said. "This wouldn't have gotten done if Bruce and (the Galaxy's owners) weren't willing to let me go on loan, which is something I'm very passionate about."
A loan overseas would be the second for Donovan in 12 months. Donovan went to Germany's Bayern Munich in January before returning to the Galaxy in March.
Donovan also said that the Galaxy's improvement over 2008 played a pivotal role in signing the contract. In 2008, the Galaxy tied for the league's worst record amid internal turmoil.
"Candidly, a year ago, I wouldn't have made this decision," Donovan said. "But Bruce has completely turned this team around and made it someplace where players want to be. I want to be a part of it.
"I love L.A. I grew up my whole life here. At the end of the day -- after a lot of thinking, after a lot of soul searching -- this is the place I want to be."
Donovan began his professional career overseas as a 17-year-old. He signed with Germany's Bayer Leverkusen in 1999, then was loaned to MLS's San Jose Earthquakes in 2001.
With San Jose, Donovan won MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003 and made the MLS Best 11 in 2003.
Donovan returned to Bayer Leverkusen in 2004 but played only seven games and expressed his desire to return to MLS. The Galaxy traded for Donovan's rights in 2005.