CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy expect to finalize an agreement with Giovani dos Santos later Thursday or early Friday that would drop the Mexican star from the club's list of Designated Players as Major League Soccer's deadline for roster compliance arrives ahead of Saturday's season openers.
General manager Dennis te Kloese confirmed that it was dos Santos with whom the club has been negotiating since Zlatan Ibrahimovic's new deal, announced in mid-December, left the club with four DPs, one more than is allowed.
“We're obviously speaking to Giovani, there's no secret there,” Te Kloese said as the Galaxy's training session wrapped up Thursday at Dignity Health Sports Park. “As everybody knows, we have to be roster-compliant before we play. ... I think something as a formal statement from the club, we'll only be able to give later today or tomorrow, but as you know, we're working on it.”
Dos Santos, 29, dealt with injury problems most of last season, playing only 823 minutes across 14 games, 10 of them starts, in league play, and he's seen virtually no on-field time during preseason because of a knee injury. He has struggled to make the kind of impact expected when he signed a DP deal and joined the club during the summer transfer window in 2015.
Dos Santos, according to figures released by the MLS Players Union, last year made $4.25 million in base salary and $6 million in total guaranteed compensation. The maximum budget charge for a single player in 2018 was $504,375.
He, his brother Jonathan and French winger Romain Alessandrini had occupied the DP slots before Ibrahimovic, who was a non-DP last year thanks to Targeted Allocation Money, vaulted into MLS's most elite player classification during the offseason. Jonathan dos Santos and Alessandrini will continue as DPs.
The Galaxy open the 2019 MLS regular season on Saturday against Chicago Fire (8 pm ET | FS1 in US, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
“First of all, we want [Giovani dos Santos] to be fit,” said Te Kloese, a Dutchman with extensive experience in Mexico who spent time as Chivas USA's sporting president. “That's, I think, the most important thing for a player. Second of all, he's expressed a big desire to show what he's capable of, get into, obviously, good part of the feeling with the fans more than anything and be able to show that he's capable of contributing to the team.”
Te Kloese said he hadn't anticipated that a DP move wouldn't be finalized until the roster-compliance deadline, which is Friday.
“There's a lot of things we've dealt with [in the past two months], and one of the most important things is, obviously, [dos Santos'] situation. I think we're very close and hope to have a positive solution for everybody as soon as possible, and then being able to express it more.”
He declined to specify the issues that have delayed reaching an agreement with dos Santos, saying that it is “something that we work on with Giovani and with everybody that is helping us with that, and we'll gave something formal coming out later today or tomorrow” and that he didn't want to “say anything that later I need to correct or which is not true.”
Ola Kamara's transfer to Chinese club Shenzhen FC, announced Thursday morning, will have no impact on the DP situation, te Kloese said.
“[It] is totally independent and apart from anything else that's been discussed regarding Giovani dos Santos. Just a declaration,” te Kloese said. “Ola has expressed his desire to listen to an opportunity from a team in China, which is finalized now, because for him, financially, and his family, it's a life-changing situation.”
The Galaxy, he said, would use the transfer fee to acquire talent “immediately or in the upcoming period.”
“We're looking to to make the roster better with the money that through allocation and through the transfer fee is made available on our salary cap, and in the coming weeks and with the candidates we've already analyzed and that we're on and we're scouting, we hope to have in the coming weeks some more news.”
Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto on Wednesday told MLSsoccer.com that the Galaxy's needs aren't up front but in midfield or on the backline.
“It's after a few weeks [of training camp] much more clear what the needs are and the way and style he wants to play,” te Kloese said. “So I think there's, as it should be, a very healthy conversation with the coach and what his needs [are], and we'll try to [make that work].”