Everton, Donovan Moving Toward Permanent Deal

Rumors of Donovan making a permanent move to Everton have started to surface.  (Photo: ZumaPress)
Rumors of Donovan making a permanent move to Everton have started to surface. (Photo: ZumaPress)

As Landon Donovan continues to make an impact on the blue half of Merseyside, we are starting to read the first reports of Everton’s desire to make the short-term loan a permanent move.

This weekend, Donovan made another start for the Toffees, playing the first 75 minutes of Everton’s visit to Wigan Athletic.  Donovan was out of the match when Tim Cahill scored Everton’s only goal in their 1-0 victory, moving them into ninth place in the English Premier League.

Donovan’s fifth appearance (fourth in league) was decent if non-descript, yet it provided further evidence of the American’s quick assimilation into the league.  The biggest of piece of that evidence:  Donovan again starting ahead of winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who had a successful run of matches before Donovan was brought in.  Though it is too soon to say whether he has done this: Unseating the Russian international would be an accomplishment.

While Mikel Arteta’s continuing recovery may make it difficult for Donovan to continue seeing as much playing time, a permanent move for the Galaxy attacker would help Everton with the depth problem they have been plagued by over the last two seasons.  But even if Everton and Donovan desire to make the deal permanent, Major League Soccer may not be on the same page.

Everton does not have a lot of money to spend.  They have shied away from big signings, recently elected to sell center half Lucas Neill on the cheap, and have to deal with limited revenue streams, streams restricted by Goodison Park.

The purchase price quoted in the linked article is surprisingly low.  A £3 million offer (about $4.8 million) would make it difficult for Major League Soccer to sell one of their two most marketable players.

At the same time, how much more should Everton be expected to play?  At the end of this short-term loan, Donovan will be 28-years-old.  That combined with Donovan’s limited history of club success outside of the United States supplies the logic behind the figure.  Unfortunately, that logic ignores Major League Soccer has little incentive to sell Donovan for so little.

There are a couple of other issues which could affect a potential sale.

Donovan has nothing tying him to Merseyside.  This loan could develop into an audition for a club with the resources to meet Major League Soccer’s potential demands.  A club like Birmingham City with relatively new owner Carson Yeung is better situated to meet MLS’s evaluation, and with Birmingham City standing a good chance to finish above Everton in the league, this hypothetical could see Donovan (by some points of view) in a better place for the 2010-11 season, should he want to stay in England.

There are other clubs – clubs where Donovan would could play immediately – that might meet a demand that reflects MLS’s evaluation of Donovan.  Sunderland has spent money in recent summers, and if a team like Newcastle comes up from the Championship, they could spend money.  Wigan has made a habit out of dipping into CONCACAF, and would it be shocking to see Fulham strengthen their United States’ brand, should Donovan continue to perform well in the Premier League?

All it takes is one team to be excited enough about Donovan to help MLS offset the loss of one of their marque players.  My feeling is that £8 million – or just short of $13 million – could get it done, provided Donovan makes it clear he wants to move.

That would be a large payout for Donovan.  As a point of reference, Maxi Rodríguez just moved from Atlético Madrid to Liverpool.  Only one year older than Donovan though playing a similar position (and having had much more club success than Donovan), Rodríguez moved on a free transfer.

In a final irony,  Donovan’s decision (predicament) harkens back to last year, when David Beckham went on his first loan to AC Milan.  Beckham’s dalliance with the Rossoneri made him the target of anger upon returning to Los Angeles.

Donovan is unlikely to face such intense criticism, though some supporters are already expressing dissatisfaction with the idea that he would leave the domestic league.

How he handles the process of moving to England will determine if that dissatisfaction calcifies into scorn.  Beckham was viewed as two-faced by Galaxy fans.

If he is intent on trying to jump to England, Donovan should learn from what that to which Beckham was subjected.  Donovan needs to be transparent about his intentions.

Though even that policy, should he want to move, will not placate everybody.

36 thoughts on “Everton, Donovan Moving Toward Permanent Deal”

  1. Tough decision.

    At Everton, I’ll have a challenging and satisfying career. But will just be a good player amongst the most exceptional masters on the planet.

    At the Galaxy, I am one of the best and most marketed player in a small but growing league.

  2. If I let Donovan go, I can collect $5 million to $10 million from Everton and bring other international stars to MLS.

    If I fight the transfer, I can keep the domestic player who will get the most American media attention in the World Cup. The World Cup will create new soccer fans in the US. Donovan might draw those new fans to MLS games.

  3. Although I found the reaction of many MLS fans to Beckham’s desire to stay at Milan last year to be more than a bit over the top — more like a jilted schoolgirl as a matter of fact — I felt that some of that came from their resentment over wage disparities, raised ticket prices and generally what the league’s hype of Beckham promised.

    Donovan, however, should have known better. He’s played outside of MLS and been involved in enough international loans and transfers to know how common those are. In fact he made his disparaging comments regarding Beckham’s original loan request whilst expressing his own desire to do the same in every interview he gave during most of last season. When he did go on loan to Germany a very few months later, the first thing he talked about was how supportive Beckham was being about his trial there, sending good luck texts etc. This must have been before Donovan’s comments about him were made public, or maybe its Beckham who, in fact is the classier guy.

    In any case there seems to be one Donovan who speaks to the U.S. press, and another that knows what to say to the European press — this season saying all the right things to the English media. He’s “known” for his honesty, so maybe he just changes his mind from day to day.

    Donovan’s playing great for Everton and I think he should stay in the EPL if possible, where there is no temptation of complacency and the big crowds will give him the feeling of the big game each week (no criticism of MLS fans, we are still a growing audience) which he has said in the past get him going. It’s a short career and if I were him I wouldn’t risk not getting another chance.

    1. The response last year was more to the way Beckham went about it: saying that MLS was subpar, etc.

      I’m all for Donovan making the big move.

  4. He’s earned it. Let him have his experience in England. It’s rewarding financially and culturally. He just tell MLS to make it happen.

  5. He just signed a contract with MLS/Galaxy to be a DP for several more years.

    Donovan will need to honor the majority of that contract, or MLS needs to receive a ten digit transfer fee for him, something that is unlikely to happen. Signing contracts have consequences. While it may not be what is best for the USMNT or Donovan personally, MLS owns his contract and will look out for their own interest.

    Why would MLS sell for a low price, arguably one of the top ten internationals on the planet who has several years remaining on this contact?

  6. I dont see him moving. The disparity of his value is too great. MLS will want money for his value in the US and it would be silly for an EPL team to pay that as his value over there is much less.

  7. Please, people, before criticizing Donovan, get a clue.

    For the millionth time, Landon did NOT criticize Becks for wanting to stay at Milan. The criticism came before he even left for Milan – it was published after. The criticism was because Becks mailed it in for the last half of the Galaxy’s miserable season – all the while drawing big bucks and wearing the captain’s armband. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS LOAN TO MILAN.

    Secondly, the reason why the fans were mad at Becks is because he said he was committed to the galaxy, but then he went behind management’s back and talked to Milan; then once he gets over there, he starts squawking about how inferior MLS is and how much he loves Milan and then pitched a fit when Galaxy wouldn’t just give him away. He even paid his own money to stay at Milan for the rest of the season…then is bold enough to say he is still committed to galaxy, as a part-time player still making huge bucks.

    Donovan has been transparent about his desire to move on to Europe. Nothing behind anyone’s back. Should he stay at Everton, it would ONLY happen if they BUY him. He is NOT seeking a loan extension to stay until the end of the season. He has said he will not do such a thing as it’s unfair to his Galaxy teammates. THERE IS NOTHING REMOTELY SIMILAR TO BECKHAM’S SITUATION LAST YEAR AND DONOVAN THIS YEAR. Thus, fans will not react to Landon in the same way….not to mention the fact that Landon has paid his dues and then some to MLS and this is perhaps his last opportunity to play in Europe. Whereas, Beckahm has been there and done that and MLS was supposed to have been his last frontier to conquer.


      This probably goes without saying, but Nicole: nothing? Other than a marque player from the Galaxy moving in the January window under the auspices of a loan who may now make the deal permanent to the chagrin of some of his personal and club supporters?

      I certainly understand that these situations have differences. Those differences are meaningful and what will make this discussion interesting.

      But nothing?

      Eh, probably went without saying.

  8. Kartik, Donovan signed that new deal precisely so that MLS would get their money. He also had a buy-out clause negotiated into that deal so MLS can’t set some ridiculous price. Everybody gets their fair share if and when he’s sold, rather than him walking for free a year from now.

  9. Here’s why Donovan’s departure is different from Beckham’s. Becks took $250m to come be MLS’s ambassador and leader, knowing full well it was a worse league that needed developing. He then came over, limped around the pitch, never tried, never did anything, took the money, then turned tail and bashed the league in the press two years later.

    Donovan has been one of a few to build MLS. He owes no debts and leaves no unbroken promises.

    As for Everton… I really love watching Landon on the Blues, however the big worry is that he might not hold a starting XI place once all the Everton players – esp. Arteta – are fit. That would be a disastor.

    I still can’t understand why Donovan re-upped his contract just prior to this loan spell, however that’s the reality. MLS won’t sell him for less than they got for Altidore, i.e. $10m. There’s simply no way. Yes the economy is worse, etc., but after the World Cup and this loan spell, Donovan will get bought by a different team in the Prem – one that can gaurantee (or as close as possible in football) a starting place and a higher fee. Fulham makes a ton of sense.

  10. Obviously, or not obvious to many, as someone living in the US, I want him here.
    What is best for Landon may have changed. A couple mil a year is nothing to sneeze at, but EPL definitely has more money to offer.
    The downside of the EPL is you will never win, he will not get a contract at a team that will win as there are only a few of them.

    On another view, maybe that fits the image that Landon has, shining when it doesn’t matter, choking when you have the ball on your feet one on one with the keeper against Germany in the biggest game he will play in…more than once. I didn’t even mention a penalty kick in MLS Cup this year ( ooops ).

    1. Yeah, he’s such a choker…never having won the MLS Cup before, except with San Jose twice. Maybe he should just go play in the most successful league in the world for a team that has been relatively successful as of late.

      Anybody who knows anything about the EPL knows that being the Holder means nothing, other than some warm feelings. You want a top four finish, preferably top three, so you get a good Champions League berth, which is everything. Think it’s not possible to challenge for it? Talk to Tottenham/Man City/Aston Villa. Everton was expected to be in that group of challengers this year…except they had injury problems. But Donovan has been their best acquisition and is proving to be an invaluable player to their side.

      With the way the top dogs are playing this year, that’s entirely achievable.

      Maybe you should watch the EPL or read up on it before you knock any player who wants to go there.

      1. I made a commitment to watch/follow the EPL for one year. It is an unwatchable joke. I am counting the days. There really is no reason to watch it, if all it is like you said, is a bad regular season to figure out the playoffs contenders. Just watch the playoffs.
        You won’t believe who the top four are going to be !??! ( Liverpool actually in fifth by a point…oooh the excitement )

        Landon won three MLS Cups. Which is my point, btw, the money may be better there, but he can compete for something here, rather than play for nothing.

        1. And how many games in hand do Villa, and Man City have in hand on them? And how many points do the two clubs have? Oh right, one’s tied in points and the other is one behind. And both have at least 1 game in hand. Meaning Liverpool is, if we think of it in averages, at least in 6th, probably 7th.

  11. Kartik: I’m all for enforcing contracts but if Donovan want to go, he should be allowed to. That he’s under contract only ensures a higher fee. With all due respect to MLS, there must come a point in the career of every one of its players when the lure of authenticity – and, in some cases, cash – becomes hard to resist. Or should Donovan be chained to a professional existence of interviews with Christopher Sullivan and Allan Hopkins, meaningless midseason games on plastic in front of nerdy wannabes, and redeyes between LAX and Logan?

  12. Charles: He was denied by a great save in the Germany game and later hesiated for a split second. He was all over the park that night. He’s been clutch more than a few times.

    1. I am failing to recount any of them, but he is one of the best, probably the best US player ever, so I will trust you are correct.
      I have seen him play many times, but I was there for this MLS Cup and I was way underwhelmed. He didn’t have the desire that any of the RSL players did.

      I just hope he is not killing his/our World Cup 2010, by wasting his time ( my opinion, not Lars and others ) in England on loan. That is where he could have and still can make his mark in history.

  13. With all do respect, Richard & Kartik, you’re missing a few things:

    1. The Maxi Rodriguez transfer is not relevant. He was out of contract and therefore Liverpool didn’t need to buy him… only needed to workout a short term loan agreement w/ former club and a long term deal with the the Maxi directly.

    2. Nicole is right. As has been WIDELY reported, Donovan’s new contract has a buyout clause . . . which I’m sure is not $16 million or more (current exchange rate is about 1.6 dollars to pounds). Donovan and his agent are not dummies, and given his significant interest in playing abroad, there is NO way he would have given that much power over his future to MLS. There is a number in that contract that allows him to walk, and it ain’t $16 million. Kartik, if you meant 10 million dollars, then it’s only about a 6 million pound transfer fee. Not cheap, but certainly expensive by EPL standards. That kind of number MIGHT be in there.

    1. That’s a good point, A Quiet American, about Maxi Rodríguez being out of contract come June; however, Liverpool could not have gotten him on a free now without Atlético’s acquiesce. They agreed to let him go. That (obviously) is not the same as Donovan’s situation, but it does help us read what the market is like for similar players. Obviously, it is not fully determinative.

      On point #2, I think both Kartik and I say that a club is not going to meet that buyout and that another figure will have to be agreed. I guessed £8 million would be the number that makes MLS consider, though that would only be if Donovan wants to go.

      If Donovan has no intention of staying in Liverpool, MLS would hold on to him, at that price.

  14. As far as Ive seen, the “buyout” clause is just an unverified rumor floating around on the internet. If someone has a link(please post it) that actually CONFIRMS a buyout clause of around 3-7 Million then I’d say there’s a good chance Donovan could make the loan permanent. Without this purported buyout clause I think MLS is gonna want A LOT for Donovan, more than they got for Jozy. And that could be the barrier which prevents him from signing at Everton or another Euro team. To fetch a 10-15 Million dollar transfer fee LD is gonna have to start setting the league on fire and scoring many goals-which he could possibly do(lets hope).

    As for Donovan signing a huge new contract with MLS before going to Everton; I think it was insurance just in case he didn’t impress in the EPL.

    1. To follow-up on CA’s point: I would like the buy-out clause information, too, though I’m more than happy to come into the comments and discuss it with everybody. But it would be cool to get the details and work them into my actual posts.

    1. Just did a couple of searches and then a brief look through Wahl’s articles over the last few months.

      If anybody can point to Wahl’s reporting on this let me know.

    2. Like everything about MLS contracts, I believe the actual details are secret. However, Nicole is right that Grant Wahl was the one who initially reported it.

      Given all the leverage Donovan had going into this negotiation with MLS/Galaxy, and his avowed desire to prove himself in a bigger league now that he has the confidence, I cannot imagine how he would have accepted any contract that did NOT have a reasonable escape clause for him. He might just be that stupid…I guess I may be overestimating him and his agent. BUT, The Everton loan was part of the negotiations, so I can’t imagine that he would have setup a deal that essentially killed any opportunity for him to move to the EPL if the loan goes well and/or he has a tremendous WC2010. I really (want to) doubt that he would hand all that power back over to MLS…

      Oh, and Richard… on the Rodriguez deal, I still think you’re missing the bigger picture. Rodriguez had fallen out of favor and wasn’t playing @ Atletico. Without a long term contract, Atletico could not sell him for a transfer fee, but they could loan him out and get Liverpool to cover his full wages, so they aren’t paying him to simply look pretty on the bench or kick ass in reserves games. If Rodriguez had still been under contract, they would have gotten a decent transfer fee for him. If he had been under contract AND been starting for Atletico, he would have demanded an even bigger fee.

      1. Thanks, AQA, for bringing-up those details but I don’t think I’m missing that.

        Obviously, all you’re saying is true. That’s all part of the picture – I agree.

        However, if this was three years ago and Rodríguez was a 26-year-old who had fallen out of favor, then he probably would not have been let go on a free. Somebody would have given something for him, particularly given the nature by which he lost playing time (coaching change to Sanchez Flores, talented attacking core at Atlético).

        However, he is not 26. He’s 29, one year older than Donovan. The point is that the market for aging wing players is less than people might think. Rodríguez is a highly respected player both at the club and international level, yet he want on a free.

        Another point that probably bares mentioning here: Rodríguez was let go because he was only going to accept a transfer to a few clubs, and when Liverpool showed interest that probably limited Atlético’s options. Rodríguez is a player who can garner interest around the world. Zenit St. Petersburg was ready to bid for him. But, he wanted to go play for Benitez at Liverpool, and Atlético’s position was compromised.

        Again the salient point: 28/29 year old wingers maybe not have the market that you would expect, based on their reputation/resumé alone.

  15. From Gant Wah’s twitter page Jan 9:

    “1. LD contract has release clause. 2. MLS transfer price for LD has always been around Altidore’s price. Doubt that has changed.”

    This is all I could find. Doesnt really tell us much but it sounds like Donovan could be had for around 10 million dollars.

    1. If this is all we have, it should be noted that “release clause” and “buy out” are not (necessarily) the same thing.

  16. Very good point Richard. My guess-pure conjecture- is that there is no “buy-out” clause, but only a release clause where Everton, or whoever, have to pay a hefty transfer fee greater than or equal to that of Jozy.

  17. In figuring Landon’s value to Everton, I think it’s fair to say that every American who shows up on the pitch of a game that’s carried by cable television in the States increases its viewership by untold tens of thousands. And thousands more during replays of the game, when we can concentrate completely on…in Landon’s case…his movement off the ball. England watches EPL for traditional reasons; America also watches to see how our guys do. And when Landon starts, my heart now leaps when Skysports carries Everton, even at 6 a.m. Texas time.

    Question for my English Everton backers, prompted by the remainder of Everton’s schedule: Might they run the table? And if so, where might they end up?


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