Forward Landon Donovan, Major League Soccer’s reigning MVP after leading the L.A. Galaxy to last month’s championship game, has agreed to a four-year extension that will keep him in Los Angeles through 2013.
Financial terms of the deal were not announced, but Donovan confirmed today that the new contract calls for a significant raise from the $900,000 base salary he earned last season.
And Donovan, 27, won’t even have to show for the start of training camp to earn it. That's because Donovan has agreed in principle to spend the first 10 weeks of 2010 playing with Everton of the English Premier League.
"We think that will be a great opportunity for Landon," said Galaxy General Manager and Coach Bruce Arena. "And the agreement, there will be some stipulations."
Although terms of that deal have been worked out, according to a source who is not authorized to speak on the matter, some paperwork details are still being reviewed. The loan could be announced as early as today.
"There's a lot of factors that go into a decision like this," said Donovan, who began talking with the Galaxy about a new contract this fall. "And I did a lot of thinking about it. Obviously there's a lot of security in where I'm going to be. But I think most of all, this team in the last year has taken a dramatic turn. And I like being here. I like being part of the organization. And I want to be part of the future.
"Candidly, a year ago I wouldn't have made this decision."
Arena said the team's decision to lock up to the franchise's second-leading scorer for four years shows its commitment not only to Donovan, but also to the team, the city and its fans.
"It gives us a great deal of stability," he said. "Not only is Landon a great player for us, but he's our leader, he's our captain. And to have that as your building block is fabulous."
Donovan, the U.S. national team’s all-time leader in goals and assists, will join goalie Tim Howard, his World Cup teammate, with Everton.
This will be Donovan’s fourth try at European soccer. As a 16-year-old he signed a six-year deal with Bayern Leverkusen in Germany but didn’t play a game before returning to the U.S. in 2001. He rejoined Leverkusen four years later and started twice before coming again to join the Galaxy. And this year he made five Bundesliga appearances and played in one German Cup match while on loan to Bayern Munich.
He will join his English team Jan. 2 and will return to the Galaxy in mid-March. The Galaxy opens defense of its Western Conference title on March 27 against the New England Revolution at the Home Depot Center.
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Landon Donovan during the Galaxy's semi-finals playoff win last month. Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images.