Three of the top figures in MLS are leaving the league on short loan spells. First, it was David Beckham going off to Italy and AC Milan. Then, it was Cuauhtemoc Blanco shipping off as Santos' hired gun in the Apertura 2008 playoffs (which begin Saturday). Now, it's Landon Donovan who will head over to Germany.
Donovan turned his 10-day trial with Bayern Munich into a two month loan, which I'd imagine would come with a chance at being sold to the Germany giants if he proves his worth. A full transfer would not be out of the question as Donovan has a huge supporter in Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who last week called Donovan the premier player in CONCACAF.
This may be the beginning of the end of Donovan's days in MLS, at least for the short term. He'd always have a home here in this league no matter how much time he spends in Europe. But now is when the timing is best and when his stock is the highest. The Galaxy and MLS stand to make quite a bit of cash if Donovan does prove his worth and Bayern does want to purchase him outright. Bayern, after all, isn't exactly hurting for funds.
It may seem a bit strange that Donovan would be so adamant about going over to Europe in a rather quick amount of time. Now, he did say before that he'd like to try his fate in Europe again but that seemed to be more a pat answer without much sentiment behind it. But his thoughts and emotions seemed to turn towards Europe at a fast rate during the 2008 season. Perhaps after Jurgen Klinsmann showed interest in Donovan over the summer, the thought became more concrete and he really started to think seriously about it. Or maybe he really did mean what he said all along.
I have my guesses as do other reporters but nobody outside of Donovan's inner circle really knows what makes him tick, what motivates him. And as far as reporters go, there's only one reporter who came close to breaking into that inner circle, well, as much as a scribe can really break into it I suppose. My former editor Paul Oberjuerge knows Donovan the best. I don't care who else has covered Donovan or who else he's talked to over the years, Paul O has everyone beat. Problem is, Paul wasn't covering soccer regularly or even semi-regularly this year. Then he was a victim of a layoff. Now, he's living in Hong Kong. Crazy story, I know.
Anyway, Paul has quite an insightful post on Landon Donovan on his blog and I think anyone who is a fan of Landon, the Galaxy or the US national team should read it.
As far as the move goes, I think it's a positive move. I hope Donovan goes over to Germany and stays there. It goes without saying that Bayern and the Bundesliga is a top-notch environment for him and I think he can still improve both personally and professionally. And I respect his decision to continue to try and test himself.
Do I think it will happen? Actually, if I had to make a bet right now, I'd say he does not come back to MLS. If you heard the audio of our six-minute chat, you can hear his desire to move on in his voice. He seems disgruntled with MLS as a whole and I think he would welcome a chance to move abroad.