CHAD WINGER - Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Bayer Leverkusen is set to cancel the contract of midfielder Landon Donovan, paving the way for the embattled 23-year old American to return to MLS on a free transfer.
"The contract will be dissolved and then MLS will decide where he plays," Leverkusen's Uli Dost told YA early Wednesday morning. "It can be assumed that he is returning to America and that he will play there."
When asked if there will be a transfer fee involved, Dost simply replied "No," before adding, "I don't know. They are negotiating that all right now," in regards to a future sell-on fee.
However, a source close to upper management at Leverkusen has revealed to YA, "[Bayer] will definitely be a part of any sell on. They will have that stake until 2008."
Donovan, who originally signed with Leverkusen at 16, appeared in just nine matches for the club since returning to the club in January, registering no goals and two assists.
But after a poor performance against Liverpool in the Champions League and seeing no action in the two matches following, Donovan is invoking a clause in his contract which will allow him to sign in the United States.
"It came from Donovan himself. He spoke to the trainer and asked if he could return to America," Dost continued. "He wants a team, he wants to play and also [play] for America at the World Cup and deemed his chances to be better there."
"Of course, the separation from his girlfriend also played a role and he decided to go back."
"He is a consummate professional and was accepted positively. But I think that he put himself too much under pressure for the Liverpool game and it didn't go the way he expected it to. I think that also had an impact [on his decision]."
Unconfirmed speculation has linked Donovan to California side Los Angeles Galaxy, hated intrastate rivals of previous club San Jose Earthquakes, with whom he won two MLS Cup titles.
In the bandied scenario, Los Angeles would send Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz to FC Dallas 96 in return for an allocation which would clear up the needed salary cap room required to acquire Donovan.
Galaxy GM Doug Hamiliton and Richard Motzkin, agent for both players - who will meet in tonight's World Cup qualifier in Birmingham, Alabama - have been unavailable for comment.
[note]Yanks Abroad's Harris King contributed to this report[/note]