Why Does Landon Donovan Need To Stay at Everton? Ask Andrei Arshavin

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Why Does Landon Donovan Need To Stay at Everton? Ask Andrei Arshavin
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Landon Donovan and Andrei Arshavin have a lot in common. No, really, they actually do. You could almost go as far as saying that the American enigma and the Russian superstar are nearly the same.

That is, in terms of being a professional footballer.

A native of St. Petersburg, Arshavin grew up playing for his hometown club Zenit. Coming through the ranks of the youth program and finally making his senior side debut in 2000, Arshavin logged over 300 appearances with the club.

During that time, he won nearly everything there was to win for a Russian player. He won the RPL title in 2007, Super Cup in 2008, Russian Cup in 2003, and Russian Footballer of the Year in 2006. That's not even mentioning victories at the UEFA Cup over Rangers or the UEFA Super Cup triumph over Manchester United.

Everyone loved him. Zenit supporters couldn't get enough of him, and opposing fans tried their best to hate him. But they just couldn't.

In February 2009, Arshavin made the move everyone expected him to make. Despite Zenit doing their darndest to hold on to him and prevent a transfer, Arshavin made it more than clear that he wanted to move on.

After all, who could blame him? He felt like he had accomplished all there was to do in the Russian Premier League and it was time for a change. So for a modest fee of €16 million, Arshavin moved to Arsenal.

To the surprise of nobody, St. Petersburg's favorite son excelled in England, earning himself back-to-back Arsenal Player of the Month awards in March and April. He further endeared himself with the Emirates faithful by slamming home four goals against Liverpool at the end of April. 

What does Landon Donovan have to do with any of this, you might ask?

If the similarities haven't already started to fall, here's a helping hand.

Donovan has been to the L.A. Galaxy what Arshavin was to Zenit. He is the most prized possession of the club, it's marquee star and the man that has lead them into prominence as MLS' most recognizable brand.

Like Arshavin, Donovan has won the MLS Cup in 2005, the MLS Golden Boot in 2008, and won more Honda Player of the Year awards than he even cares to count up. He has been everything and then some for club and country.

I haven't even mentioned that the two are exactly the same height and are less than a year apart in age!

But like Arshavin, Donovan wanted to better himself and challenge himself at the highest level of football the world has to offer. So this winter, Donovan received a 10-week loan to Everton.

While it's difficult to say that he has single-handedly turned around the Toffees season, he has had nothing but a very positive impact on his new club. In short, he proved to every American soccer fan out there—he truly is a very talented player and can show it playing on the big stage as well.

But those 10 weeks have come and gone.

Donovan is due back with the Galaxy in a week (Mar. 15, to be exact) to train with the team in preparation for the upcoming MLS season. Despite mutual interest by Donovan and Everton manager David Moyes in extending the loan until the end of the English season, the Galaxy have absolutely no interest in allowing that to happen.

A simple response really. "We're not interested. Landon will be back here March 15. We're being consistent with everything we've said all along," said Los Angeles manager Bruce Arena.

Let's forget about the potential labor dispute that would delay the start of the season.

For the sake of Donovan, the United States football team, and the Galaxy, the loan deal not only needs to be extended, but made a permanent change. By following the lead of Arshavin, it would become a reality as well.

At first, Zenit took a very uncompromising stance about letting Arshavin leave for England. It just wasn't going to happen. The made sometimes ridiculous transfer demands, in terms of prices or what might be coming the other way (see: Zenit telling Barcelona they want Lionel Messi for Arshavin). 

That didn't sit well with Arshavin or his agent. So in turn, they started playing hardball with Zenit management, nearly demanding them to allow a transfer. With more or less kicking and screaming from either party, Zenit finally gave in and did what was best for everyone by allowing him to go to Arsenal.

If the Galaxy plan on holding an equally as uncompromising stance, Donovan needs to answer with an aggressive demand to play for Everton. After all, he does want to promote his career before it's too late.

What does it do for Landon? Well, that's painfully obvious. Major League Soccer is still a second-tier league in comparison. There are more than a handful of American soccer fans who will say that the league is improving, and sure it is. But it is still not nearly at the level of competition that Donovan sees in England right now.

As previously stated, what more could he get out of playing for the Galaxy?

He's won everything. He's dominated league play for years upon years. After all, American fans don't love the minor conferences. How many fans are willing to say that a team that goes 11-1 in the Mountain West conference of college football is as good as one who does the same thing in the SEC? Nobody.

American fans want to see Donovan succeed and succeed on the highest possible level.

But he is under contract with the Galaxy, and the fans want to see him in person instead of on the television. Why should they even consider letting him go?

Quite simple, it's in the best interest of the club. There's no possible way Donovan will be completely happy being forced to play for a team that he knows in his heart he is too good for. Especially not after his run of excellence in England.

The Galaxy can not hold on to him forever. They will need to learn to play without him sooner rather than later. Clubs lose players all the time, but they have figured out how to replenish the talent either through younger players or signings.

Sure, it's more difficult to do so in MLS. There's a salary cap restricting how much teams can spend.

But like other successful clubs like Seattle or Columbus, they have proven that they can find talented players and sign them. Whether they are younger, unproven South Americans or European veterans, they have made it work.

This one is easy. Why does the U.S. team need Donovan in England?

In the World Cup, the U.S. will be facing the best players in the world. Or at least if not all of them, quite a number of extremely talented players. To beat the best, more than just luck is needed.

That is a fact.

It's also a fact that you can teach an old dog some new tricks. The more matches Donovan gets under his belt in England, *gasp*, the better player he will become.

So Landon, maybe you should have a little chat with our Russian friend. He did what it took to get into the best league in the world, and you would do well to do the same.  

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