Loan star Donovan hopes to delay return to States
Players' strike in US may may allow Galaxy striker to stay longer with Everton
Landon Donovan, arguably the most effective Premier League loan signing of the season, believes he could – if permitted by LA Galaxy – fit in up to five games more for Everton before returning to California for the start of the new MLS season.
Donovan, whose immaculately taken goal for Everton against Hull City on Sunday rendered the mystery of his failure to make a mark during six years at Bayer Leverkusen and three months at Bayern Munich all the more puzzling, appeared unlikely to see his desire come to fruition last night, with the Galaxy manager, Bruce Arena, indicating that the club are "not interested" in extending the loan. That ought to come as some relief to the England camp, since an extension of Donovan's loan to 15 April – by which date the 27-year-old acknowledges he must return west – will enable him to hone the promise which already suggests he is someone for England to fear in Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium on 12 June. The Premier League is certainly a more challenging place to prepare for the World Cup than the MLS league.
Donovan, the US national team's player of the year six times in the last nine years, clearly maintains a strong affinity to the Galaxy, despite his fond farewells at Goodison on Sunday. "I have told Galaxy what I want; they know what's going on and I speak to my manager there often," Donovan said yesterday. "Both clubs know how I feel, which is that I would like to stay, though I can't end the season here, I'd have to go back 15 April at the latest.
"If that can be worked out, great. If not, then the Galaxy are my team and I'm very grateful for the chance I had here. It would be bittersweet either way. I'd like to go back home and start with my team-mates, I miss them, because I have played with them for three, four, five years in LA, if I leave here I will be excited to go home, but it would be sad to leave."
The only factor which may yet sway Arena is the labour dispute in which MLS is currently embroiled, with talks between the league and the players' union continuing. If an agreement is not reached and the start of the season is delayed, then Donovan may yet remain at Goodison Park. "Obviously the collective bargaining could change that [Donovan returning]," Arena said. "If we didn't have a league going on, we would certainly entertain the idea of allowing Landon to stay. If we have a league, Landon's going to be playing for the Galaxy."
The Everton manager, David Moyes does not appear to anticipate signing Donovan permanently for next season. "I don't think that was ever on the agenda," he said. "He has always been at the Galaxy." But the forward's ability to put Manchester United and Chelsea to the sword in recent weeks does not augur well for Fabio Capello and Donovan reflected that his stay on Merseyside has made him better prepared for June
"It's absolutely improved me. It's impossible not to," he said. "I have learnt a lot technically, tactically, how to keep myself motivated. It absolutely puts me in a stronger position for the World Cup. But the biggest thing is having the confidence I can play against anybody and not fear anyone. We can't worry about what people think of the US. I want to do well and what people think about us, what they perceive, is out of our control."
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