Donovan’s MLS Price Tag Is Not Ridiculous

There has been a lot of outraged reaction to Martin Rogers reporting that Landon Donovan’s price tag by MLS was $16 million. In my mind that seems pretty much right on the money.

The point made by many is that $16 million for a 28 year old, who therefore has little resale value, makes little financial sense. Others note that Donovan is not good enough to merit that price tag. There are a few things worth point out here.

First, we are talking dollars not pounds. 16 million dollars is just 10 million pounds. Now 10 million pounds is a lot of money, but when you look at the outlays of the previous years – Robbie Keane at 28 to Liverpool for 20 million, Gareth Barry to Man City for 20 plus at 28 – this sum appears quite reasonable.

Second, buying Donovan gets a team access into the US market. Any purchase of Donovan isn’t just about how he performs on the field, it is about gaining a foothold into the growing US market. After the World Cup, he is by far the most recognized American soccer player and has become somewhat of a celebrity. The World Cup increased his value, especially to the league. This is why a team like Man City showed interest in Donovan. And why a league like MLS values Donovan highly.
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AF Is In Charm City

Rafa dreaming about buying Lucas…

Transfer Rumors: Michael Bradley Is Not Going To Blackpool

No way, no how does Michael Bradley go to Blackpool. Yes a rumor has floated through the British papers that Blackpool is interested. If I were a Blackpool fan this rumor would make me worried about the intelligence of the management. Michael Bradley is 22, he just stared at the World Cup, while the fact that he is an American will for some reason likely lesson his value – he is still worth around 10 million dollars/euros/pounds. Do Blackpool have the money to spend that on a Premier League newbee? The answer is almost assuredly no.

Furthermore, a move to Blackpool makes no sense. Blackpool are almost assuredly going to be sent down to the Championship. At the very least they are going to be fighting relegation until the final day of the season, and most likely they are going to be playing very negative defensive football. Granted Bradley’s current club are no guarantee to avoid the drop, but they are a club that is in a stronger position in the Bundesliga. While the quality of the Premier League is slightly higher, moving to a team that is likely going to be there for just a year makes no sense.
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Exclusive: Tottenham Hotspur and San Jose Earthquakes Developing A Special Relationship

This was cross-posted at Huffington Post Sports.

While other MLS clubs are preparing for the new season by playing lower tier US clubs, the San Jose Earthquakes are in London testing themselves against Premier League competition and practicing at the training facility of Premier League risers Tottenham Hotspur. What is an MLS club doing in London?

The preseason trip to the UK is a result of a partnership that was penned between the two clubs in 2008. This agreement was hardly unique. Throughout the last decade MLS clubs have announced with great fanfare a variety of partnerships with various big international clubs. The LA Galaxy signed an agreement with Chelsea and Arsenal with the Colorado Rapids. While the initial signings of these partnerships brought a lot of initial interest, to most close followers of MLS little has seemed to come from these deals. But as this preseason trip demonstrates, meat is starting to be added to the bones of these agreements.

The Earthquakes by all accounts have had a fantastic week, defeating both a Spurs (1-0) and West Ham (2-0) reserve side that included Premier League regulars. They also beat western conference rivals, the Colorado Rapids (2-0), who have a partnership with Arsenal. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told the Huffington Post that he has

“been impressed with our US partners the San Jose Earthquakes; they’ve been well organised and extremely competitive against some good opposition.”

Clive Allen, former Spurs player and head Development Coach was quoted on the Earthquakes website, “they are hoping to achieve a lot more this time around and with the players they’ve brought in and the strength of that squad, it certainly looks that they are capable of doing just that.”
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Beckham’s Injury May Effect Landon Donovan’s Summer Plans

By rupturing his Achilles yesterday playing with AC Milan, David Beckham’s World Cup dreams are over. This, in footballing terms is not that great of a blow to England, as the Guardian’s Rob Smyth dryly notes. But this is a big blow for MLS and to the LA Galaxy who have now likely lost Becks until the very end of the season and possibly for good, due to Beckham’s age.

This is not only a blow to the team’s ability to win, as Beckham despite his age, clearly offered quality to the side and played an important role in the Galaxy’s run to the finals. But this is also a significant blow to the Galaxy’s bottom line. Beckham could still put butts in the seats and create a lot of buzz in Tinsel town, as well as all over the country. When the Galaxy went on the road, every team saw significant boosts in attendance when Beckham played – although that impact declined last year. The league is still losing its most marketable player and noteworthy player.

But this also raises the question Does Beckham injury make selling Landon Donovan after the World Cup less likely? The Galaxy, a fairly big spending club for MLS, would surely not want to lose their two best players and most marketable players even for a decent profit. Additionally, the league, which owns Donovan’s contract under the single ownership structure, will likely be more hesitant to sell, as it will mean losing their two most notable players.
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This says it all about January Transfer window…

This January transfer window has been a real snoozer and is just further evidence that the financial crisis and resulting recession have taken a toll on all English clubs – not just those owned by Americans. There are likely to be a few interesting transactions as the English transfer window closes in a few minutes but there is nothing compared to previous years. BBC’s Simon Austin writes:

I’ve been to interview a sports consultant at Deloitte. They estimate only £21m has been spent in the January transfer window so far, compared to £170m last year and £150m in January 2008. There haven’t been any £10m signings this year and only one for £5m, which Spurs paid Portsmouth for Younes Kaboul. There were seven £10m signings last January – three were made by Manchester City (Nigel de Jong, Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bridge), three by Spurs (Wilson Palacios, Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane) and one by Arsenal (Andrey Arshavin).

Holden Signed By Bolton, Says UK Report

There is a report from the amazingly unreliable British press that Stuart Holden has signed with Bolton. The Bolton News reports:

WANDERERS are set to complete a double loan swoop later today, with Manchester City winger Vladimir Weiss and US international midfielder Stuart Holden set to become Owen Coyle’s first recruits at the club. Holden has impressed on a trial at the Reebok and will complete a deal from Houston Dynamo to stay until the end of the season…It is not yet known whether Holden will be able to feature.

There have been mixed reports on Holden from the UK press, with some saying new Bolton manager has passed on Holden. But following these reports Holden has remained at Bolton by all indication. So I think it makes sense that they will sign Holden.

I asked earlier why would Holden go on trial before simply signing – since a failed trial would lower his overall value. I think two things seem clear. One, Holden wants to play for Owen Coyle who adopts a very attacking and flowing style of play. Second, he wanted assurances that he would play and I bet Coyle couldn’t give any assurance unless he saw Holden in person. The last few weeks have thus given Holden a chance to regain form after a long MLS layoff and give Coyle a full view of Holden’s capabilities. In other words, if he does sign, he will likely play an important role.

This, if true, is great news for the USMNT. While Dempsey will be back for the World Cup, we have no idea if he will regain his form, and with Hull’s moves for a striker and Altidore’s place looking unsettled, we desperately Holden to get hot.

Bolton Likely To Sign Holden

The Sun has a truly awesome headline: Bolton Could Be Holden On To Stu.

BOLTON boss Owen Coyle is considering whether to offer Stuart Holden a contract at the Reebok Stadium. Coyle said: “Stuart has come in and trained well with us. It is something we will look at in the next few days… “We have a good group of players but we are looking to improve the squad we have. That’s an ongoing process. “He’s obviously got talent, good technique and quick feet. We just have to make that judgment about whether he is better than what we have already got.”

It looks pretty clear that Holden will end up at Bolton as new manager Owen Coyle seems particularly keen after still bringing Holden in after his move from Burnley. However, one thing I do not get is why Holden is on trial. What agent told Holden that was a good idea?

I mean let’s say Owen Coyle passes on Holden after seeing him up close and personal. That would put a major dent into the interest from other suitors and perhaps his overall value. A number of clubs will be telling themselves, if Coyle didn’t want to sign him on a free transfer than he must not be good enough for this league.

Why put him on trial? Most players that are in demand would never do that. The only explanation I can think of is that Holden really really wants to play for Coyle, which is a smart move. But if he doesn’t land at Bolton, he could have some trouble finding another suitor.

Freddy Adu Still Brings The Hype

Freddy Adu was greeted with great fanfare as he came off the airport in Greece. They even have a song for him already!

But lest you get too excited, he received the same type of greeting from Benfica fans when he arrived in Lisbon in 2007 (scroll to about the 1:35 mark).
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Still Waiting On Some Crucial Transfer News

As the first week of January comes to a close, we are still awaiting news on two of the more important US transfer targets: Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark.
While Donovan has gotten most of the attention, the moves of Holden and Clark are more critical for the US national team. Both of these guys look likely to be apart of the US World Cup squad and it is hugely important for the US that these two land well and get playing time.

It seems pretty clear that both will head to Europe. Both are out of contract with MLS and can therefore sign a free transfer, meaning that European interest ought to be high. Moreover, work permits won’t be a problem – definitely not for Holden (he has a UK passport) and Clark has been a national team regular.

Stuart Holden: He was linked to Blackburn in December, but now it looks like it was another Premier League side Burnley. Holden is apparently going to Burnley for a trial. Yet it is a question if this move is still possible, given Burnley manager Owen Coyle’s departure for Bolton. With Burnley in flux, I think this would be a very risky move for Holden – unless he is interested in playing in the Championship next year. Burnley is currently just two points clear of the drop zone and with the loss of their manager and their frugal ways one has to think they are likely to go down. However, the one major advantage of moving to Burnley is that Holden would be pretty assured to get a lot of playing time between now and the World Cup.
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