CARSON, Calif. – Dennis te Kloese likened the LA Galaxy's protracted pursuit of Cristian Pavon to an amusement park ride, but after many weeks of negotiations and times in which it looked like a deal would not materialize, bringing in the Argentine winger marks an important moment for the club.
“We want to be living up to the history that the Galaxy has always shown, to be ambitious and a winning team,” LA's general manager said Thursday afternoon. “Cristian is just a part of this, but an important part. I think this is something that going forward shows everybody – not only in the United States, but around the world – that the Galaxy is an ambitious club.”
The loan move, finalized this week, might have been impossible but for Pavon's decline in form since starting for Argentina at last year's World Cup. Barcelona, Arsenal and AS Roma were interested in the 23-year-old attacker at various points, and LA got him for a comparative bargain.
Pavon's form, and what it meant economically, was one of the barriers as te Kloese, technical director Jovan Kirovski and soccer operations director Gordon Kljestan repeatedly met with Boca Juniors’ brass. The presence of head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, a Boca legend who came to LA after nearly two years in charge of the Buenos Aires-based giant, was significant.
“We've worked with Guillermo's knowledge of the player and the club, on one end very, very helpful,” te Kloese said. “On the other end, Boca being welcome to the player's wishes, I think, in the case made all the difference. And it's probably a case of taking advantage of the right moment at the right time, where in another moment or another time, it would be very difficult.”
Pavon, whose time dwindled at Boca over the past year, says he knows he's going to have to “keep working hard to be back at that level” he had attained heading into World Cup.
“I don't really listen to what's being said,” he said in Spanish of his critics. “I just try to do my best and work hard everyday. Work hard to be back in the form that I was in, and you get that with working, having confidence, and I want to show that on the field, and I think [with the help of the] coach, I will get there.”
Pavon arrived Sunday in LA, was on the field with the team Wednesday and trained fully for the first time Thursday morning. He figures to slot in on the right flank once his visa and transfer certificate are in hand, and the club hopes he's eligible in time for next Wednesday's (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, on DAZN in Canada) home clash with FC Dallas.
“Sometimes you can't keep the same level over life, but he has a lot of qualities,” Schelotto said, “He's fast, good technically, [scores] goals. He's very direct. Try to play one, two, three touches maximum and trying to be looking forward to do something in front. ...[He will make us] better. Not different, better.”
“A good player, a young player, and he had been playing with the national team, big games with Boca, and the coach knows him very well. They've worked together,” the Swede said Thursday. “I think he will be very effective for the team, especially in the offense, and we just have to help him settle in as soon as possible, but that would not be difficult. He's good, he comes, and he will be a big help for us.”
Galaxy midfielder Favio Alvarez grew up playing with Pavon in Talleres de Cordoba's academy and for a spell with the club's first team.
“When I found out that he was interested in coming out here, I was bugging him constantly [about it], because I know what kind of player he is, and how he is as a person, which I think is very important,” Alvarez said in Spanish. “We have a good relationship, and if I influenced his decision, then that makes me very happy, because he made the right decision … He's a player of top hierarchy that is going to help us reach our objective, if God wills it, to be champions.”
The loan deal lasts through the end of this season, and the Galaxy have an option to extend the loan next year. After that, they'd have an option to purchase his contract.
Te Kloese declined to speculate on LA's Designated Player situation should Pavon, as the club expects, return next year. But he said Pavon's acquisition was a coup for MLS overall.
“That we can actually compete for this kind of talent with teams outside MLS, in Mexico or Europe, speaks highly not only on the league, but also this organization,” te Kloese said.