The Mexican star was officially introduced as the defending MLS Cup champions' newest big-name player on Tuesday afternoon at StubHub Center, and in a Stadium Club packed with media and team staff, he addressed Donovan's legacy – and the qualities the legendary attacker brought to the field during a decade with the Galaxy.
“I think everyone knows Landon is a great player,” said Dos Santos, who will wear the No. 10 shirt that Donovan sported for 10 years in LA. “I have a lot of respect, but I am Giovani Dos Santos. I came here to work hard, to win titles and do my own history here in the club. Hopefully, I can win a lot of titles and do a big history here.”
Dos Santos, 26, will play an attacking role for the Galaxy, and the plan is for him to make his debut in Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League opener against Central FC (10 pm ET, Fox Sports 2) before seeing his first MLS action on Sunday against Seattle (4 pm ET, ESPN, TSN2). Beyond that, how he'll be used by the Galaxy – the role he'll play, and how he'll play it – is yet to be determined.
“I think it needs a little bit of time to let it play itself out,” head coach Bruce Arena said about his options in the attack. “I don't have all the answers right now, and maybe I'll never have any of those answers, but we'll see. We need a little bit of time.”
Dos Santos could play virtually anywhere among the front six – Donovan, too, had that ability – and Arena acknowledged that his presence alongside Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard gives LA comparable weaponry as when Donovan, Keane and David Beckham teamed up during back-to-back championship campaigns in 2011 and 2012.
“There'll be a lot of similarities, I think,” Arena said. “In the case of Gio, we know his qualities are he's a very good attacking player, and we need him close to goal, we need the right players around him, and everybody needs to understand their responsibilities.
“Gio can play as a striker with Robbie Keane, he can play in midfield underneath Robbie or out wide. There's a variety of positions, and I think as we grow together as a team, we'll have a better understanding of where he fits on the field to help both himself and the team. That will take a little bit of time, but when you mention Keane, Gerrard, Dos Santos, that's good to me. Zardes, Juninho, Lletget – we'll find a way for everyone to play well together.”
Keane, the Galaxy's captain, said Dos Santos will advance LA's ability to interchange up top, an integral ingredient to their title run last year.
“He's, obviously, a talented player, he's very sharp and technically very, very good, very clever,” said Keane, who has kept in touch with Dos Santos since they were teammates at Tottenham in 2009-10. “He can score goals, he can set people up. If me and him do play up top together, I'm sure there will be a lot of interchanging.
“It's always difficult for defenders. It's very easy to mark someone who just stands there all the time. It's difficult to mark people who're moving.”
Dos Santos is coming off an adductor injury sustained while with Mexico's national team during last month's CONCACAF Gold Cup, but he's trained the past two days with LA and is slated to play in Thursday's CCL Group D clash against Trinidad and Tobago's Central FC at StubHub Center.
He could make his MLS debut when the West rival Sounders visit on Sunday afternoon.
“Over the next two days, if everything goes well, we'll get him on the field on Thursday ...,” Arena said. “Not sure yet [how long he'll play]. I think we'll see how he feels tomorrow, how he's reacted to training today. If he's OK tomorrow, we'll make a decision how many minutes he plays.
“I think we need to get through the week a little but before we deal with [a plan for the Sounders game].”
Arena said that Dos Santos would need “a little time to get back” after sitting out a couple of weeks with the injury, “but in a very short period of time, I think he'll be back to being a hundred percent fit.”
His new teammates have been impressed.
“Exactly what we expected,” defender Dan Gargan said. “He's a technically gifted talent, and I think he'll bring a level of calm on the ball. And he's certainly got a confidence and flair to his game, and I think that will permeate through the team the same way Stevie's confidence has. I expect him to be what he is. He's a world-class player.”
Arena doesn't want to spend time on the comparisons with Donovan, who retired after last season.
“They have some similarities, but I think he said it eloquently,” Arena said. “He's Giovani Dos Santos, and he will bring his own personality and qualities. ... Landon's a very accomplished player and had a great career, and Giovani is really just starting his career, in some ways. So give him time to make his own statements.”