"Back home everyone said I didn't have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here but it sounds better in French." —Jerry Mulligan, An American In Paris
Those lines accurately sum up Landon Donovan's professional career, at least the parts that have been spent in Europe. His critics have long said that he couldn't hack it in European football.
That might change with a move to Paris-Saint Germain.
You read that correctly. After last winter's frustrating spell with Bayern Munich, the face of the U.S. National Team is set for a move to Paris.
The former home of Ronaldinho.
Seven time winners of the Coupe de France.
A club that missed out on the Europa League on goal differential last season.
And from a footballing standpoint, the Parc des Princes is miles above the Home Depot Center.
Some very credible rumors have popped up claiming that Donovan will be moving to the French capital, either on loan or via permanent transfer.
Domestically, he's been playing better than ever before.
He's produced magic like this on a weekly basis during the current MLS season, so it's no surprise that European clubs are once again interested in his services.
Donovan has also played quite well in a National Team shirt this year, save for a lackluster performance in Mexico City that was the result of a bout with swine flu.
This proposed move comes with a lot of pressure.
At 27 years old, this is surely one of Donovan's last chances to impress a European club. Success in Europe is one of the few competitive hurdles that Donovan has not been able to clear, and he's desperate to do something about it before he gets to the latter stages of his career.
An important question must be raised—why should we believe that this will be any different than Donovan's time with Leverkusen or Munich?
For one, Paris Saint-Germain is not Bayern Munich. Donovan won't face the same competition for playing time that he did in Germany because he's not going to be battling Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni, not to mention Bastian Schweinsteiger and the other midfielders.
At PSG, Donovan could slot into the midfield with relative ease, or play as a striker. There are very few players on the books at PSG that can boast Donovan's combination of experience and success.
Put him in the midfield in front of Claude Makelele and PSG gets an exciting holding/attacking midfield combination. Pair him up front with Guillaume Hoarau and PSG gets a quick player who's good with the ball at his feet to work with their prolific 6'4" striker.
Ligue 1 as a whole also suits Donovan's skill set better than the Bundesliga. It's less physical and more technical, which is a good thing when you've got his diminutive frame. Germany was never the best place for Donovan—he fits in much better with the Spanish or French style of play.
It definitely looks like a good move on paper. All of the elements needed for success are in place—playing time, technical league, good pairings for Donovan all over the field.
But, the matches aren't played on paper. Donovan has yet to show that he's got the necessary mental toughness to survive in Europe. His confidence may have been shaken due to a lack of playing time at his earlier stops, but he can't dwell on that now. Time is running out.
Perhaps this is the move that will finally work out for him. It looks like a good fit, and he wants to succeed. Does Paris hold the key to European success for Landon Donovan?
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