With the offseason in full swing for the LA Galaxy, the club is wasting no time in making some much needed changes. On Tuesday morning, the club announced that Pete Vagenas had been relieved of his duties as LA Galaxy Vice President of Soccer Operations.
On that same morning, Galaxy held their end-of-season media availability in which many questions regarding the future of the club were answered. And many that were not.
“The priority for me is to hire a leader for our soccer operations,” LA Galaxy President Chris Klein said.
“That is first step. And then we’ll go on from there. Obviously, we need a coach for next year (laughs). So, I would put that as priority 1B.”
Another priority that’s at the top of Klein’s list is keeping Swedish International Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But Ibrahimovic’s potential return asks a lot more questions, specifically Designated Player questions.
The Designated Player Rule allows clubs to acquire up to three players whose total compensation and acquisition costs exceed the maximum budget charge. The club then bears financial responsibility for the amount of compensation above each player’s budget charge.
However, as things stand, the Galaxy currently have all three DP slots taken – Romain Alessandrini ($1.87 million), Giovani dos Santos ($6 million) and Jonathan dos Santos ($2 million).
But in the case that Galaxy fulfill all of Ibrahimovic’s “demands” and bring him back for the 2019 season, it is likely that Ibrahimovic would be looking for a DP slot to go along with a raise.
This leaves the faith of Giovani dos Santos uncertain.
GDS’ uncertain future
It was a tough year for the 29-year-old Mexican. He finished the season by missing over half the year due to injuries and for playing with the Mexican National Team at the 2018 World Cup, and wound up playing in just 14 MLS matches.
The forward, meanwhile, scored just two goals and had three assists during what was another underwhelming year with Galaxy.
And with another year of underperforming and a DP slot that many view as “wasted,” there’s no denying that the possibility of a buy-out is an option.
“We’re not going to comment on any individual players,” Klein said when asked about a possible buy-out.
“It would be up to someone else to come in and evaluate what is the best for individual players and the club as a whole.”
As expected, Dos Santos was not made available to the media on Tuesday, but his brother, Jonathan dos Santos was.
“Gio wants to stay here,” he said.
“He knows that this year was a complicated year. He had the misfortune and bad luck of not being able to play a lot of games. He had a lot of injuries.
In the end if you aren’t healthy it’s very difficult. But he’s at ease, eager and very ambitious. With the hope of next year being the player he has always been, and he’s demonstrated that since playing here but unfortunately this year was a difficult one.
He’s staying very positive. We always talk about it; we want to make history with this club. God willing and next year will be good for the both of us. We want to lift the Galaxy from where it’s at now.”
With their focus on GDS remaining in LA, and the club’s focus remaining on bringing back Ibrahimovic, it becomes clearer and clearer that the possibility of Giovani leaving the club is a realistic one.
But then this leads us to another question: if the Galaxy decide to part ways with the 29-year-old, does this mean it’s the end of the Dos Santos era in Los Angeles?
“Well I still have three more years on my contract here,” Jonathan told reporters on Tuesday.
The two brothers have already made MLS history when they became the first pair of siblings to become DP’s on the same team.
The younger Dos Santos, who joined the Galaxy in the middle of the 2017 season (two years after the elder), made 23 appearances during the 2018 season. And, overall, he put up better performances, becoming a rock in midfield, while scoring twice and racking up eight assists.
But the Dos Santos brothers have been marked with the stigma that they come as a two-for-one deal, and they’ve both vocalized their desire about continuing to make history, together.
“It’s always been a dream of ours to play together and to make history in a team like the L.A. Galaxy,” Jonathan said in July of 2017.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to play with my brother, and I’m happy to be able to play with him.”
The brothers came up together in Barcelona’s La Masia academy. They then spent one season together at Villareal before GDS made the move to Major League Soccer.
When asked if their futures were tied together, and if JDS would consider staying on the team without his brother, he was quick to come to his defense.
“We know what Giovani can offer. We honestly have not thought of that, about the team wanting to sell him.
For me, Giovani is a player who has to be here. He has to be the best player on the team next season and show the great player he is.”
I wanted to know what this all meant for his personal future and if he would stay in Los Angeles should his brother leave.
“Yes, yes,” he told me.
“But like I said, I have not thought about that option. But whatever happens I would stay here.”