Many in the media had suggested that Landon Donovan couldn’t hack playing football in Europe. And you really couldn’t blame the media for doubting the American star’s potential.
After a disappointing 4 years at Bayer Leverkusen and an unsuccessful loan spell at Bayern Munich last season, the hope for Donovan’s talent to transcend to the European game were all but over. But as we all know, anything is possible in the funny old game of football.
In the MLS season that just ended, Donovan led the LA Galaxy to the championship game and even though they were defeated, his MVP performances throughout the year grabbed the attention of Europe’s elite clubs once again. Donovan was being given another chance to prove himself on the big stage of European football and he was determined to make the most of his opportunity, especially heading into a World Cup year.
This time, the American chose the right club and the right country to play his trade. Everton are one of the most famous, traditional and prestigious clubs in England. And they have a great manager who is able to identify talent when he sees it. David Moyes didn’t hesitate in signing Donovan on loan to Everton. He needed him. With Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and a host of other fantastic players on the injury list, it seemed a perfect fit for both club and player. Sure it was a risk based on Donovan’s past European experiences, but Everton’s injuries meant they had to gamble. Donovan was given the famous #9 shirt by the club and he has certainly worn it proudly.
There’s no doubt Donovan has been inspirational at Everton. He has risen to the occasion, taken his opportunity with both feet and has starred for the Premier League team in many games, including victories over Chelsea and Manchester United. Donovan was just voted Player of the Month and a certain love affair might be brewing between the American and the Toffees faithful. His performances have engaged the British media and many are seeing Donovan as a completely different player. In fact, some Brits are a little more afraid of facing the United States team in their first game at the World Cup because of how Donovan has played!
Donovan now faces a very difficult decision. He finds himself in a similar situation to David Beckham following his successful loan deal at AC Milan last season. When football superstar Beckham extended his loan deal with the Italian club, Donovan was a huge critic as he questioned Beckham’s loyalty and dedication to the LA Galaxy team. After being quoted in the book “The Beckham Experiment”, Donovan made his feelings about his teammate’s contributions or lack thereof crystal clear. With things going so well at Everton, should Donovan follow in Beckham’s footsteps and extend his deal? If I were an Everton fan, I wouldn’t want to lose him. If I were David Moyes I wouldn’t want to lose him. If I were the LA Galaxy, I would want him back. But what does Donovan want? After all the criticism of Beckham, would he even consider staying with Everton until June?
As Donovan continues his preparation for the World Cup, surely staying in Europe is best for him and the United States team. Right now, it’s great to be in the land of Donovan…