Landon Donovan's big Christmas present this year goes to Everton, where he heads next week to begin a two-month loan.
Everton manager David Moyes says the Toffees are looking forward to the return of the Galaxy captain, who was so good in a 10-week spell with the English Premier League club two years ago.
And if Donovan wants to make the move a little more permanent, well ... here's what Moyes had to say when he appeared on the “ExtraTime Radio” podcast Monday at Major League Soccer's website.
“We really liked Landon last time,” said Moyes, who will have Donovan for nine, 10 or 11 games, depending on F.A. Cup success, from Jan. 4 through Feb. 24. “I think it would have cost us a lot of money to bring him in -- Landon was one of MLS's biggest stars and, obviously, a top Galaxy player. I think if Landon was ever going to come back to Europe, this would probably be the time to do it, because of his age, et cetera.
“Who knows? The plan is only to bring him here a couple months. I've not got any longer plans to do any more than that. But, you know, if Landon said to me, 'I'd like to do it,' and his form was good enough and he could manage it, I wouldn't be against it. But if I was going to do hat, the first people I would contact would be Bruce [Arena, the Galaxy's head coach and general manager] and the MLS.”
Everton sure could use some of what Donovan provides -- Moyes pinpoints skill, speed, attitude and experience -- after a 5-8-2 start, good for 14th place, in the EPL this season. The Toffees have scored just 16 goals in 15 league games (only two rivals have fewer) and have just one in their past three outings, and the boss says he “could consider playing him up front” as well as on the right, where he was stationed in the first Everton loan, or on the left.
Donovan was a big hit during the 10-week stint in 2010, scoring twice in 13 games, winning the club's player-of-the-month award his first month there, and engineering a shift in perceptions -- following earlier Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich failures -- about his toughness and ability to play at the highest club level.
“The interesting part for me was that when Landon came here, it worked well for him. It helped him,” Moyes said. “I don't know how much it helped his reputation back home, because I know it's huge as it already is, but it certainly helped his reputation in the Premiership, and he was well-thought of not just by me, but by all the other Premiership sides as well.”
Moyes said he's had good experiences with American players -- Tim Howard is his starting goalkeeper, Marcus Hahnemann is his third-string goalkeeper, and Brian McBride played for him a decade ago at Preston North End -- and that Donovan's professionalism and experience were valuable two years ago.
“I've always looked at Landon as probably the most gifted player in the MLS, as far as the U.S. players go ...,” Moyes said. “And when he came in here, he was a little bit of a gamble for us because, perhaps, he hadn't done so well in his early days when he was in Germany. And I think Landon might have had a little bit to prove, as well.
“And he came in and he done good against Arsenal, he played in some big games for us. We were on a very good run at the time, and Landon was very much part of the team. And as well as that, he was very good at integrating with the players. But most importantly for us was his speed, his attitude, and because he was experienced, he helped us along.”
Moyes first approached about another loan during the MLS season, but Donovan was consumed with the Galaxy's run and uncertain whether he wanted a loan deal. He was sttill noncommittal, even dismissive, when talking to media about his loan options a few days after L.A.'s MLS Cup title-game victory over Houston.
“I think once [the MLS season] was over and done with and I'd spoke to him,” Moyes said, “I think Landon had started to show signs he'd been keen to come back over. He was great for us the last time he was here, and the supporters enjoyed him, and I think Landon enjoyed his time in the Premier League.”
That stint helped Donovan prepare for last year's World Cup. With nothing like that on the horizon, why would Donovan, especially after a difficult, injury-diminished campaign, want to do this now?
“If you're asking me,” Moyes said, “I think [Donovan is] getting to an age in his career where 'if I don't do it now, I might not be able to do it later on.' He's in demand by me at Everton -- and I think he was in demand by a few clubs after his performances last year [at the World Cup], by clubs hoping he might come back.
“But, you know, he plays hard for the Galaxy all year, he has international games. To ask somebody to near enough go all year round is quite a tough call, but Landon, we're looking forward to having him, and I'm really hopeful he can help us here.”
NOWHERE NEAR: The weekend's David Beckham sightings in Paris turned out to be pure fiction. He was still in L.A.
Beckham and his family arrived in London on Monday to spend their holidays at home in Britain, with paparazzi photos of their departure from Los Angeles and arrival in England spread across British websites. So, too, of Beckham and sons Brooklyn and Romeo at Monday night's Sun Military Awards gala.
France Football magazine had reported that Beckham and his family had arrived Saturday at Le Bourget airport north of Paris and that he might make an appearance at Paris Saint-Germain's game Sunday against Lille -- perhaps as PSG's newest signing.
Beckham, of course, wasn't at the PSG game, and his reps denied he was in Paris -- and since Paris ain't L.A., they weren't lying.
The English star is expected to decide whether he'll remain with the Galaxy or sign with PSG (or, far less likely, head elsewhere) within the next week or so. His Galaxy contract ends Dec. 31, and the transfer window in France opens Jan. 1.
BUDDLE IN ENGLAND: Turns out former Galaxy forward Edson Buddle was dismissed from German second-division club FC Ingolstadt because the club is cutting costs and wants to dump his contract. His L.A.-based agent, Richard Motzkin, confirmed Monday via Twitter that Buddle is on trial with London's West Ham United, which is in the second-tier English Football Championship after relegation last spring from the Premier League.
Buddle left the Galaxy last offseason to sign with Ingolstadt. He scored nine goals in 32 games for Die Schanzer, with six in 16 league games this season.