Donovan to Germany to discuss future

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    Major League Soccer issued the following statement Thursday in response to published reports and speculation regarding the future of San Jose Earthquakes forward Landon Donovan:

    "Landon's overseas trip to Germany is simply to begin the discussions regarding his future, as to which no decision has yet been made. We have a strong relationship with Bayer Leverkusen and look forward to speaking to Landon and Leverkusen at the end of our season regarding his professional playing environment. Landon's wishes will be very important in those discussions and we will continue to explore all avenues to keep Landon in MLS for the long term."

    The 22-year-old Donovan, who became one of the youngest Americans ever to sign a professional contract overseas when he joined Bayer Leverkusen in February 1999, is currently in the fourth year of a co-sharing agreement which was extended by two years on Dec. 18, 2002.

    Donovan had originally signed a two-year co-sharing agreement in 2001 which gave the Bundesliga club the right to recall the World Cup veteran at the end of the 2002 season. Leverkusen exercised that right to retain Donovan but negotiations between MLS, Bayer Leverkusen and Donovan's agent, Richard Motzkin of SportsNet resulted in a new co-sharing arrangement. As in the case of the first co-sharing deal between MLS and Bayer Leverkusen (2001-2002), the current deal also provided the German club an option on the forward's contract at the conclusion of the 2004 season, which Leverkusen exercised earlier this summer.

    Since joining the Earthquakes in March 2001, Donovan has risen to the forefront of American soccer and pop culture, leading San Jose to two MLS Cup championships in his four seasons with the club, spearheading the U.S. national team's thrilling run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and recently donning the captain's armband for his country.

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