Despite his age, Donovan has more than earned his money

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The man is 31, almost retired less than a year ago, and for a fleeting moment lost his place on the U.S. National Team.

And yet, he still more than deserves the money he got today from the L.A. Galaxy – he deserves it.

Now, if you look at it strictly in terms of what he brings to the pitch for L.A. and translate that to money, of course he’s being overpaid.

BUT – let’s recap (with a little help from our Steve Davis) what Donovan has given both Major League Soccer and the United States, and it will become overwhelmingly clear why this is a no-brainer for the Galaxy. Most of this is obvious, but it adds up:

  • With three more years, he will very likely become the MLS’s all-time leading scorer and assists leader. Obviously records are meant to be broken, and barring a catastrophe within the league those numbers will eventually be eclipsed by someone.  However, will anyone ever hold both again?
  • All the smart money would certainly go down on this being the last contract Donovan will sign in his playing career.  Outside of his brief time at Bayer Leverkusen in the beginning of his career, every contract he’s ever signed has been in Major League Soccer.  For the United States to say it basically has kept a hold of one of the country’s most important and iconic figures in the sport is a fantastic accomplishment.  Landon dabbled in European soccer a few times, but found he was always at home in MLS.
  • Donovan has over 150 caps for the USMNT, and is 2nd all-time in that category.  He also has the most goals in USMNT history, by a good amount, as well as the most assists. And those numbers are sure to continue climbing.
  • He’s led the San Jose Earthquakes to two MLS Cups, and the Galaxy to three – including the last two years.
  • He’s won the MLS MVP once, won the All-Star game MVP once, won the Golden Boot once, has the most goals in MLS playoff history, and has the most combined regular season and playoff goals in MLS history.
  • He still has some left in the tank.

source: APWith all that, how could Los Angeles refuse?

If you’ll allow me to go off-sport for a moment, the situation reminds me a lot of the Derek Jeter contract negotiation with the New York Yankees in 2009.  At age 36, Jeter and the Yankees had a bit of a tense public contract battle (akin to some of the rumors of Donovan leaving, though nowhere near as hostile or high-profile).  However, it was always going to end the same way – with Jeter essentially handed a blank check as a token of appreciation for his legendary service to the club and league.  Jeter ended up with 3 years and $51 million.

In Donovan’s case, it ended the same way.  While we don’t know the length of Landon’s contract just yet – he joked it was “200 million dollars per year for 20 years” a his press conference – my educated guess is that it’s around the same, 3 years.

At around $4.5 million per year (above $5 million with bonuses), Donovan will be in the range of being the second-highest paid player in MLS – he’s behind Clint Dempsey by about half a million base salary, and right around Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry.

They’re biased, but Galaxy brass think he’s pretty good too.

“Landon has been a major factor in the growth and sustainability of Major League Soccer and we’re thrilled that he will continue to wear a Galaxy shirt for years to come. Keeping Landon was a major focus for our club and reinforces our desire to acquire and retain the best players from the United States and abroad.” -Galaxy President Chris Klein

“He is the best player in the history of the game in our country.” -Galaxy coach Bruce Arena

Despite rumors and “multiple offers” from overseas, Donovan was always going to stay.  Why should he leave?  It never would have been right.  Instead, he and the league got it absolutely right.  Will he reach the final year of his contract at a high level of play? Who knows, but it doesn’t matter.

Landon Donovan has given Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer some of the best play this country has ever seen.  And now, he may very well be here for the rest of his career.  Just like it should be.

Watch Live: Swansea host Manchester United

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Swansea City welcome Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Jose Mourinho’s side aiming to stay top of the Premier League table.

[ STREAM: Swansea v. Man United ]

Yes, it’s early days, but the Red Devils were imperious in their thumping 4-0 win against West Ham United to open their season. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic dominated and Mourinho’s men are now a powerful, well-oiled machine.

As for Swansea, they struggled at Southampton but came away with a draw, however the main storyline surrounding the South Wales side this week has been losing Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for over $60 million. Paul Clement will have to act fast to spend that cash wisely, but there is no doubt the Swans will miss their Icelandic playmaker.

In team news Swansea bring in Kyle Bartley and Roque Mesa as they line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham up top.

Man United are, unsurprisingly, unchanged.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Fernandez, Bartley, Mawson; Naughton, Mesa, Fer, Carroll, Olsson; Ayew, Abraham. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fulton, Narsingh, Routledge, McBurnie.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.