CARSON, Calif. -- Giovani Dos Santos' move to the LA Galaxy has been in the works, in one manner or another, since he scored that sensational goal at the Rose Bowl in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final four years ago.
His arrival, expected next month following this year's confederation championship, comes on the heels of Steven Gerrard's club debut and is something of the rich getting richer.
“On paper, I think we might be one of the most dangerous teams in the league, that the league has ever had,” defender Robbie Rogers proclaimed Thursday, the day after LA confirmed that the Mexican international had been acquired as a Designated Player from Spanish side Villarreal after they used the new Targeted Allocation Money mechanism to offset defender Omar Gonzalez's salary, removing him from the club's list of DPs.
“Now we're going to have to have a few games and pull together, but I'm confident in the coaching staff and the experience of the players to get it done.”
Dos Santos, 26, isn't expected to be available until the Aug. 9 encounter against Seattle at StubHub Center, at the earliest, and head coach Bruce Arena said how he would fit into LA's lineup won't be determined until he arrives and begins working with the group. Expectations are huge, but there's still work to be done.
“We're a very long way away from having anything done and getting anything on the field,” Arena said. “He won't be here for a couple of weeks. We'll wait and see. It's going to take a little time to get our team going again.
“We have five players out now with national team duty, a couple other hurt, so it's going to take some time. And we'll just wait and see, and, hopefully, by the end of August we'll have a better feel for what kind of team we're going to have.”
Dos Santos, among Mexico's most acclaimed talents, arrives following two seasons at Villarreal, where he scored 11 league goals in his first campaign but only one in the season that just concluded. He emerged from Barcelona's system and has spent time at Tottenham -- Galaxy captain Robbie Keane was a teammate -- and Mallorca with loan stints to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing Santander.
“I think after his experience in Spain this year, he was looking for another opportunity,” Arena said. “I knew he was looking at some Mexican clubs as well. We've been chasing him for some years, and I think as MLS has grown, he's been aware of the growth of our league and the kind of players that are coming to the league now. He had a great deal of interest in LA, and we certainly had interest in him.”
He can play on either flank, in an attacking midfield role, or as a partner to Keane up top.
“Although he's not a real big player, he can play with his back to the goal,” Arena said. “His first touch is excellent, he's got great vision, in and around the penalty area he's very dangerous. He can be a playmaker, he can be a goalscorer, he can go by people with and without the ball. I think he's got the kind of qualities that our team needs, and, hopefully, you'll see that as the season progresses.”
Keane says he's stayed in touch with Dos Santos since he left Tottenham in 2011, a year before the Mexican's move to Mallorca.
- Get more LA Galaxy news at LAGalaxy.com
“Great guy. Absolutely great guy,” Keane said. “Young kid when he came to Tottenham, and I think he at 18, 19, has fairly limited chances because a lot of players were ahead of him, but every time he trained and every time he did play a game, he was brilliant, and you could see what a player he was. ...
“He's got everything. He can play left, he can play right, he can play up front, plays the No. 10 [role]. Very, very skillful, quick, sharp, scores goals, can set up people -- he's basically got it all, to be honest with you. That's why I'm delighted he's coming. I think he's going to be a superstar in this league, there's no question about it. He's got the right mentality. He has the flair.”
Gerrard, who is slated to make his MLS debut in Friday night's California Clasico against San Jose at StubHub (11 pm ET, UniMás), also praised Dos Santos.
“He's very clever, he's very intelligent, he comes alive in the final third,” said Gerrard, who followed Dos Santos' career in England, Spain and with Mexico's national team. “And we're hoping he can help create chances and score goals for us and also work hard for the team. That's the message from Bruce: No matter what position or what player you are, you work hard for the team.
"That's No. 1, and then, hopefully, your skill and your talent kicks in, and Dos Santos has plenty of that.”
Dos Santos will take a higher profile with the Galaxy than he has with his previous clubs, in terms of prominence, leadership and his relationship with the community. Los Angeles, of course, has a mammoth Mexican population, and LA employed Mexican stars Jorge Campos, Luis Hernandez and Carlos Hermosillo in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
“This is different for him,” Arena said. “In his club career, he's been a little bit in the background. We saw him emerge a little bit with Villarreal. So this [will be] a big move for him. There's going to be a little bit of pressure on him. He's going to be a well-sought-after player in our community here, so he's going to have to come in and we're going to have to give him a little time to get settled in.
"But there's going to be a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders, both on and off the field.”
Galaxy president Chris Klein said Dos Santos' signing, like that of 28-year-old Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco with Toronto -- as high-profile players in their primes, rather than in their 30s -- is “the next step” for MLS.
“There's so many things that have to happen for our league to continue to take giant steps forward like we've done,” Klein said. “We have to have big players in our league, we have to develop our own players, and then we have to track some of the world's best players in the primes of their career.
"Giovinco came in at a similar age. Giovani coming in at the time of his career where he's just entering his prime is a really important statement for the Galaxy and a really important statement for MLS.”