Giovani dos Santos flirted with MLS in the past. He fielded interest from Sporting Kansas City. He pondered his options as he pursued his career in Europe. He weighed whether he really wanted to make the move to the United States.
It took him a couple of years to reach his verdict, but he finally decided to take the plunge.
Mexico international midfielder dos Santos, 26, agreed to terms on a reported four-and-a-half year deal to leave La Liga side Villarreal and join LA Galaxy on Wednesday. The team confirmed news of the deal later Wednesday, noting dos Santos is scheduled to join the Galaxy in August following the conclusion of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
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Per club and league rules the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but he is expected to cost the Galaxy a seven-figure transfer fee and earn less than $6 million per year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"It’s going to be a challenge for him," Galaxy coach and general manager Bruce Arena told the Times. "He’s not been at a club yet where he’s had those kind of responsibilities. And he’s in a community where he is going to be sought after. He’s going to have to be mature about it."
The move is a significant coup for both the Galaxy and for MLS. Dos Santos represents one of the most elusive targets — a prominent Mexican international willing to move to MLS in the prime of his career — for a league always in search of more stars. The former Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur player also fits perfectly for the Galaxy given the demographics in southern California and signals the club’s intent after the arrival of Steven Gerrard earlier this month.
Dos Santos is the second prominent international player to join MLS in July. Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo agreed to join New York City FC earlier this month. The duo joins Gerrard and Frank Lampard as prominent, established international players expected to make their debuts in the league this summer.
MLS recently enacted a rule change to help teams reinforce their rosters with top-end players. The introduction of Targeted Allocation Money gave MLS teams $100,000 per year (and a sum of $500,000 over five years) to either buy down the budget hits of existing Designated Players or spend on new signings.
The new rule allows the Galaxy to create room on its roster to sign dos Santos. Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez currently fulfill the Galaxy’s available allotment of three DPs, but the Galaxy is expected to use Targeted Allocation Money to buy down Gonzalez from DP status and then immediately replace him with dos Santos.