Jay Bell dreams up a scenario where Landon and Stuie go clubbing together.
The MLS season is over and once again we keep hearing multiple rumors about loan options for the Los Angeles Galaxy’s two superstars.
David Moyes has never once said that he would not like to have Landon Donovan back on his team. The more interesting thing is that the Blues also want to bring in David Beckham on loan as well. After his Achilles injury this season Beckham is not likely to go anywhere on loan this offseason, especially not a Liverpool club. Beckham has officially ruled out a move to Everton. At his age, he needs more rest than ever.
With Donovan, it is more complex. The lone American soccer star is younger, but has played 33 out of the last 36 months. After a 2008 MLS campaign that saw him score 20 goals and his team finish last in points, Donovan went on loan to Bayern Munich. Juergen Klinsmann wanted him. The club was in serious turmoil and Donovan ended up in a bad situation. Members of the board insulted him and Klinsmann lost his post before the end of the season. That summer Donovan led the US to the finals of the Confederations Cup. A lot of credit has been given to Donovan testing himself in Europe once again; becoming a better player.
The following winter, after an MLS Cup final appearance, he headed to Everton. American fans’ expectations were optimistic, but not over the top. What happened next will be remembered by US soccer fans for years to come. Donovan started immediately against Arsenal and became an important player for David Moyes. Everton faced all of the best teams in the English Premier League. Donovan faced a 10 week grind that he will never be able to replicate. In fact, few American players who spend their entire careers in Europe will ever face such a grueling stretch of pressured games of such high quality. The Merseyside club had begun the season with their annual slump, so they needed points in the second half of the season. Once the team got on a roll, then there was pressure to keep it going. Everton and Donovan met that pressure and continued to excel.
At the end of his loan Moyes was keen on keeping Donovan, but MLS’s asking price was too high. Questions have not ceased about whether he would join Everton again. Both Moyes and Donovan have repeated that they would like to reunite again.
If Donovan had to “test” himself in Europe, then he passed with flying colors (cliche, I know). He went on to be arguably the US’s best player in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. During a span of 6 months Donovan received redemption for his early failures in Europe as a youngster as well as his sub-par performance in the 2006 World Cup. So what’s next?
Donovan was visibly gassed down the stretch of the MLS season. He is still an elite athlete, but he was running on fumes. In England, things are different as well. Everton is not the same club they were. Sure, they may be having their annual early season slump, but its a very long slump. There is also uncertainty within the team. The reason that Everton was such a perfect fit last season was because they welcomed him in and gave him a comfortable environment. That might not be the case this season. Their fans are growing restless and may heap unfair expectations upon him.
The solution? Bolton Wanderers FC.
I know. I know.
Calm down. You ready? Hear me out.
Donovan has no more “tests” he needs to take. He has taken a lot of weight off of his shoulders with his performances in England and South Africa. There is also no reason to go to another league. He has proven that he is the perfect type of player for the EPL and there is not a better league to consider.
Bolton is also a better team right now. Owen Coyle has transformed the team into a more free-flowing attack-minded team and they have been rewarded for it. Bolton currently sits 6th in the Premier League table and could be geared for a top half finish if they stay healthy. Their team morale is soaring high right now. It would be a positive environment with a playing style that suits Donovan’s. A big reason for Bolton’s success has been the quality play of Stuart Holden.
Not only is Holden a positive as a friend on the team, but he is also a shining example of how a player can thrive when given support. That’s what Donovan had at Everton last year: support. Coyle wanted Holden at Burnley. Then went he left Burnley for Bolton, he wanted Holden to come trial for him there. Once healthy, Holden immediately started two matches until his Premier League season was De Jong-ed in the US’s friendly against the Netherlands. If Coyle showed the same type of support for Donovan, then they would be able to replicate the environment he was so fond of at Everton.
Then there is the part about his place on the team. At Everton, he walked in and started. At this point, a loan for Donovan should be about keeping up fitness and form. Its doubtful that he would be asked to be a starter on a Bolton squad that is playing so well. However, they are thin. Donovan could be an impact player off of the bench as well as starting several matches so Coyle can rest some of his players.
Did I mention the financial aspects of the situation? Bolton now has £93 million in debt. That debt will likely lead to the dismantling of this team; some players may be sold this winter if the price is right. However, Donovan could be a great short-term boost since the team would not need to pay a transfer fee. The team’s wage bill is £46.4 million. If Bolton pay Donovan the same salary he makes with the Galaxy, then a 10 week loan would only cost them approximately £361,000, only accounting for about 5% of their wage bill. Coyle would be hard pressed to find a cheaper loan option with as much upside
Landon Donovan has “passed” all of the tests he needed to face. If he goes out on loan this offseason, then he does not need to focus on preparation or pressure. He should focus on his fitness and form for the upcoming 2011 MLS season. Everton was the perfect destination last season. It is not anymore. Bolton are a better club in a better situation. Donovan would be able to play for a quality side and face little pressure in a comfortable environment led by a quality manager. If Bolton keeps their team together, despite their debts, to make a push in the second half of the season then it would be a perfect loan destination for Landon Donovan.