The loan deal for Landon Donavon from Los Angele’s Galaxy to Everton may have gone under the radar for many but already it looks like it may be a shrewd move by manager, David Moyes.
Initially for only 10 weeks, already player and manager are pushing to make the move permanent such has been the ease of the USA captain’s transition to Goodison.
Since joining the Merseyside club Donavon has been impressive; laying on the equalizer against Arsenal on his debut, playing out the whole 90 minutes against Man City and scoring his first goal against Sunderland during last midweek. At weekend he started against Wigan and played out 75 minutes before being replaced. Since joining the Toffee Men they have not lost a game winning 5 a row in the league, a statistic which is viewed as no co-incidence by pundits and experts alike. So far he seems to have been the perfect signing.
He has slotted into a midfield encompassing Leon Osman, Stephan Pienaar and Maraoune Felliaini with ease and seems to be a perfect foil for his more inventive centre partners but while contributing defensively he has liked with the resurgent Tim Cahill and mercurial Louis Saha.
Donovan is no stranger to European football having previously had short, unsuccessful terms with Bayer Leverkusen and most recently Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. However, the player himself gave a hint to the apparent reason for previous failure in a midweek interview citing;
“You kind of get a sense of family and community here (talking of Everton) that I haven’t felt at other European clubs, I think that wears off on you and when you feel comfortable and you feel at home you’re going to play better.”
He went on: “It’s been seamless for me since day one, I walked into the locker room and Phil Neville was in there and he just talked to me like I was part of the team. He made me feel normal and everybody is the same way.”
Donavon had never sampled the English Premier League (EPL) and may have looked at this move (at 27 years old) as his last chance to break into the big time. The relative success of Jose Altidore at Hull City could have strengthened his decision but in reality he has everything to gain and nothing to lose.
His is lauded as the best Major Soccer League (MSL) player at home, even managing to upstage his LA Galaxy team-mated David Beckham (indeed Donavon may have spied the success of Beckham’s Milan loan deal and taken heart) and is captain of the National team. So far he has represented the United States 120 times, including two World Cups and scored 42 times at international level,impressive statistics.
As a result his place on the plane to South Africa is assured whether his loan deal is a success or not. The MSL is close season just now so he would ordinarily be idle or on pre-seaon training so the loan to Goodison comes at a perfect time. The only real risk may be if he picks up a serious injury in the more physical EPL.
The question now is whether he chooses to extend his stay at Everton or instead chooses to remain with the home comforts of the MSL. With the transfer window now shut it is likely that any deal will have to wait until after the World Cup, frustrating for both club and player.
David Moye’s is clearly impressed with his temporary recruit and has been considering a modest bid of £3 million for the midfielder, a figure that surely must be at least doubled to ensure his permanent services. A successful world cup may increase his price even more.
Country man and Everton team-mate Tim Howard has been similarly impressed by Donavon and promises of improvement to his impressive start.
“He’s very composed,” said the goalkeeper. “But it’s hard to come into a team and pick up the system and how you fit in. That’s going to slowly come and he’ll get better. He’s a top player and he’s very humble and works hard. He’ll accept the criticism and he’ll put that into the plan and get better and better.”
It remains to be seen if Captain America can continue his excellent start and conquer the EPL.