If the Los Angeles Galaxy weren’t the favourites to win the 2015 MLS Cup, and why wouldn’t they be after winning three in the last four seasons, than they certainly should be now.
Not only did the Galaxy sign Steven Gerrard to a designated player contract last January for a reported $9 million, 18-month contract; but the team have now one-upped themselves with what is being called the “biggest signing of the summer”.
Los Angeles’ only MLS side have now added Mexican star Giovani Dos Santos to their solar system for a cool $7m transfer fee. The Los Angeles Times reports, Dos Santos contract will run for the next four and half years, earning the Mexican international $27m.
Controversial signing or not, Dos Santos’ addition is enormous for the club. While the Mexican may have played for seven clubs previously – including Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and most recently Villarreal – his draw on and off the pitch is massive.
At 26-years-old, Dos Santos is in the prime of his career. Despite 2014/15 being a down season for him at Villarreal – one goal and three assists in 26 games – Dos Santos can be for the Galaxy, what Sebastian Giovinco is for Toronto FC. His pace and ball control will be no match for many of the league’s defenders and his accuracy from a dead-ball gives the Galaxy an embarrassment of riches from set pieces.
The Galaxy have had difficulty stringing wins together in 2015, winning no more than two matches consecutively at any one time in MLS play. With eight wins, seven draws and six losses, the Galaxy are far from championship form and the club were recently dumped out of the US Open Cup by Real Salt Lake. But needs have been addressed to ensure the club begin to improve things down the stretch.
The biggest problem area has been the team’s creative side of play. Currently, Robbie Keane not only leads the squad in goals, but assists, too. The Galaxy are in need of someone to take the burden off of Keane. Meanwhile, Gerrard, though still excellent in terms of MLS quality, isn’t the inventive swashbuckling playmaker that Dos Santos is capable of being.
Dos Santos’ signing should provide Keane the ability to stay further forward and keep the 35-year-old from exerting too much energy as the summer heats up. Dos Santos is dangerous off the dribble and his movement will free the Irishman up, in much the same way Landon Donovan did in years past.
Off the field, Dos Santos can be that link to the Mexican-American community that doesn’t follow MLS; or those that turned their back on soccer after Chivas USA were contracted. The Spanish speaking community has been highly coveted by MLS brass for years and this may finally be the league’s chance to reach them.
The good news for the Galaxy is that Dos Santos should be ready to play in August, just in time for the MLS Playoff run-in. The bad news currently, is that Dos Santos picked up an injury in Mexico’s recent CONCACAF Gold Cup game against Trinidad and Tobago. Though the injury has been declared a “minor” one, the Galaxy’s new DP will need full fitness to help push the star-studded Galaxy to a second straight MLS Cup.
Anschutz Entertainment Group have made a point to put stars on the field in each season since David Beckham’s arrival. However, unlike in seasons past or even earlier this year, the club have looked more long-term by adding Dos Santos. Although the Mexican’s track record for staying at clubs is abysmal, this could be the move in which it all clicks for the former Barcelona youth player.
Dos Santos signing has been a project for the Galaxy, and after years of courting, the club should rest assured that they got their man. Much like David Beckham’s arrival in 2007, the Galaxy now have a player that can transform them both on and off the pitch.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that writes for World Soccer Talk. Drew has contributed to Radio Yorkshire, Forza Italian Football, Bleacher Report, MLSGB and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, British football and the USA’s Major League Soccer.