MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

The LA Galaxy's huge Cristian Pavon question | Tom Bogert

Crisitan Pavon solo - LA Galaxy

Cristian Pavon is a very good player. Full stop. He makes the LA Galaxy better and the league more interesting. 

If only it was that simple to sort his future. 

Pavon's status remains very much up in the air, as his loan from Boca Juniors expires after the season. The Galaxy hold a purchase option for $20 million and have reportedly already told Boca they won't be spending that much, but would like to renegotiate a new agreement to keep Pavon in Los Angeles (per TyC Sports).

The 24-year-old Argentine international has been hugely productive in MLS despite the Galaxy's recent disappointment. He has 10 goals and 15 assists in 29 appearances, a goal contribution about once every 100 minutes. He has either scored or assisted 14 of the Galaxy's 22 goals this season, underlining his importance to the struggling squad. He is ninth in MLS in expected goals plus expected assists (10.3), despite the Galaxy being 19th in MLS in expected goals. 

A transfer for $20 million, though, would easily be a new MLS record for an incoming transfer. It also comes within the context of a global pandemic and reduced revenue, making the figure even more towering than normal. 

It's unlikely a resolution will come anytime soon. There is sure to be many twists and turns to this saga — there already have been, anyway, with various reports stating Pavon has no interest in returning to Boca as well as that the Argentine club would consider a new fee above $10 million.

One of a few huge decisions that face the LA Galaxy this offseason, the Cristian Pavon question looms large. Here's what GM Dennis te Kloese told ESPN's Jeff Carlisle about the Galaxy's position: 

Purchase options and transfer fee expectations

It sounds counterintuitive, but often a purchase option involved in an initial loan agreement can be treated less as a take-it-or-leave-it price tag than a basis for negotiations when the time comes again. Multiple MLS GMs and agents around the league have conveyed as much.

For instance, the Philadelphia Union initially had a $4 million purchase option for Jamiro Monteiro before eventually signing him for $2 million. FC Cincinnati were able to extend Jurgen Locadia's original loan agreement, thus delaying when they'll have to decide on or work to renegotiate his purchase option. 

That doesn't ring true for every deal, of course. River Plate didn't budge on Jorge Moreira's purchase option — which a source said was "well over" $1 million — when his loan with the Portland Timbers neared its end this summer. Moreira returned to Argentina and Portland moved forward. Bournemouth and the Seattle Sounders couldn't find common ground over the future of Brad Smith last winter, who ended up returning to Seattle as a free agent this summer. 

Even if Boca would acquiesce to a smaller fee in light of the pandemic, it'll still be among the largest in league history. 

Most expensive incoming MLS transfers

Reported transfer fee
Ezequiel Barco
Atlanta United
<a href="" target="_blank">$15 million</a>
Pity Martinez
Atlanta United
<a href="" target="_blank">$14 million</a>
Alejandro Pozuelo
Toronto FC
<a href="" target="_blank">$11.4 million</a>
Brian Fernandez
Portland Timbers
<a href="" target="_blank">$10 million</a>
Michael Bradley
Toronto FC
<a href="" target="_blank">$10 million</a>
Jermain Defoe
Toronto FC
<a href="" target="_blank">$9.8 million</a>
Javier Hernandez
LA Galaxy
<a href="" target="_blank">$9.4 million</a>

Opulent transfers can be judged successful in multiple ways. 

Trophies are one. Michael Bradley has led an era of unprecedented success in Toronto FC, with their historic treble in 2017 (MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship titles) as well as two more trips to MLS Cup and the 2018 Concacaf Champions League final. Teammate Alejandro Pozuelo was an immediate hit since arriving in 2019, being named to the league's Best XI in his debut campaign as well as helping guide the club to an unlikely place in MLS Cup, where they fell to the Seattle Sounders. He is among the favorites for Landon Donovan 2020 MLS MVP.

Future value is another. Pity Martinez didn't live up to expectations on the field, but the club turned a small profit when he was transferred to Al-Nassr FC for $18 million. The jury is still out on Barco, who hasn't delivered the type of on-field performances as was expected but remains a player linked with European clubs.

Any player acquired in the ballpark that Pavon undoubtedly would cost will have expectations of one of the best five or 10 players in the league. 

What value for the Galaxy would make sense? We'll find out over the next few months if they and Boca can reach an agreement. Pavon was a starter for the Argentine national team at the 2018 World Cup, lest we forget. 

Last year it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic departing after two pyrotechnic years with Mexico's all-time leading scorer Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez coming in to replace him. This year all eyes will be on Cristian Pavon.

Just another normal offseason in Hollywood.