Landon Donovan could have the chance to become the highest-paid American soccer player in history after Manchester City said Wednesday that the English Premier League club is trying to sign the United States star.
Man City head coach Roberto Mancini confirmed to English media outlets that Donovan has emerged as a transfer target. Multiple sources close to the club insisted that Donovan stands to earn $7 million per season if a move is completed.
The 28-year-old’s salary with the Los Angeles Galaxy is $2,127,777.78.
“Donovan is a good player,” Mancini said when asked if a transfer was likely. “It could be possible.”
Major League Soccer chief Don Garber claimed last week that the league would not entertain offers for Donovan, whose three goals for the U.S. in the World Cup confirmed his status as the best and most widely recognized American star.
However, City is bankrolled by Arabian billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, making it the richest club in soccer. A transfer bid in the region of $15 million would likely be enough to tempt the Galaxy and MLS, as Donovan’s value before of the World Cup was widely estimated at between $8 million and $10 million.
The tough decision may be for Donovan himself. A loan spell at EPL club Everton earlier this year convinced him that he has the ability and personality to thrive in the ultra-competitive and physical imposing English system.
“I proved to myself and to a lot of people that I can do a good job in that environment,” Donovan said. “A lot of people can go and have one or two good games, but it takes a lot to perform at that level week in, week out.”
The problem for Donovan may lie with the level of depth in the City squad. Following a lavish spending spree, the team finished fifth in the Premiership last season and has already brought midfield stars Yaya Toure (for more than $16 million per season) from Barcelona and David Silva from Valencia.
That means Donovan could face a legitimate fight to get regular first-team action and could be relegated to a substitute role if he struggles. The plus side would be the salary, which would be far more than he could make with Everton, the Galaxy or any other team, and the chance to be part of a team tipped by many to compete for the EPL title this season.
City sent a scout to watch Donovan in “all four games” he played for the USA in South Africa, according to a source familiar with the club’s acquisition dealings.