This wouldn’t be the first time a Major League Soccer team has been connected to Mexico’s Giovani Dos Santos. Three years ago, links between the current Mallorca man and the Houston Dynamo captivated a few orange minds. Now, thanks to Mallorca’s relegation from the Spain’s La Liga, it’s no surprise “Gio” has hit the MLS rumor mill again, this time with a team and a price that might be a little more enticing to the 24-year-old attacker.
Nothing against the Dynamo, who we all know are a great organization, but for people outside Major League Soccer, there’s one team that outshines them all. Add in a rumored $8 million offer and you can see Dos Santos softening his reluctance to move closer to home, perhaps acquiescing to what would be one of the more notable deals in Major League Soccer history:
Translated roughly: Gio has an offer from the Galaxy and MLS for $8 million – greater than offers from Valencia and Queretaro (the same Queretaro that will be playing second-division soccer next season).
It’s unlikely that money is a per season number (is that his wages, a transfer fee – what?), but on a relegated team after failing to cement spots at Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur, it’s unclear Dos Santos is going to have a ton of better options. He could take less playing time and maybe less money to go to Valencia, or he could look at a two-to-three year stint in Major League Soccer as a way to position himself for a big return to Europe. And if he does so while playing for the best team in the league on a lucrative deal, all that’s left is overcoming any type of stigma youhemay personally attach to ditching Europe for Major League Soccer.
And at this point, that stigma is all in a player’s mind. If you’re getting good money to play in the post-Beckham Major League Soccer, nobody’s going to begrudge your decision. If it’s good enough for Thierry Henry and Alessandro Nesta, most will see it as good enough for anybody, and while those players are at a markedly different point in their careers than Dos Santos, players will apply the same logic. When you hear random players (think Phil Neville) say they watch Major League Soccer, see improving quality, and note they could see themselves playing in the league, it’s often more than lip service. Whether you agree with it or not, that’s often how they actually feel.
If Giovani Dos Santos can get over the opposing (and still fervent) idea that MLS is a retirement league for European stars, Major League Soccer makes a lot of sense. Especially because he’s not a European star. In CONCACAF, we know what Dos Santos can do, and if he came to Major League Soccer, he would be one of the league’s best players from day one, but at 24 years old, he’s yet to make a major impact in Europe. He showed flashes (well, in one game) at Barcelona, was good at Racing Santander, and was decent enough for Mallorca this year, but he’s not exactly an established difference-maker. He’s not leaving an Bechkam-, Henry-, Di Vaio-esque career behind.
I’m a little more interested in how this would work for LA. In theory, he could play either behind Robbie Keane or wide while Landon Donovan moves into that counter attack-orchestrating role that tore teams apart in last year’s playoffs. And if Donovan doesn’t re-sign after the season, Dos Santos becomes a great option to build an MLS attack around. But I could also see Dos Santos dropped into this year’s team, being a bit of a stylistic mismatch, and aimlessly floating (particularly, in defense) as he fails to find in a team with a very specific ethos.
In that sense, there’s some risk to this move on both sides, although Dos Santos does meet some bigger picture goals. As was discussed when the Kaká-to-Los Angeles rumors were at their peak, the Galaxy’s local deal with Time Warner has kapt them conscious of their market demographics. That means giving Latino and Latina customers reason to identify with the team, whether that translates at the turnstiles or in broadcast viewers.
Dos Santos would check that box, and he does so while providing the Galaxy with what would be one of the league’s bigger talents. Considering the salary and the place Dos Santos finds himself in his career, this rumor makes sense for all involved. That’s not to say there wouldn’t be notable risks, but there are certainly enough positives for each side to justify the deal.