The Galaxy have spent most of the 2019 offseason contemplating how to handle the difficult proposition of becoming roster compliant after they offered star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic a new Designated Player contract after the season’s conclusion.
Ibrahimovic’s promotion meant the Galaxy then had four designated players in a league that only allows three. And every option was publicly scrutinized and sneered by fans and pundits alike as the club quickly marched towards the 5 p.m. deadline.
“To get my head around the entire situation takes time,” Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said while acknowledging his recent appointment to the job. “I’ve known Giovani (dos Sanos) and his family for years, and respect them very much. So I wanted to make a full assessment.
“And we wanted to do the right thing for both the player and club. And it took us, to be honest, more time than we expected. But we wanted to take the appropriate time and obviously, today is the day we needed to make a decision.”
Giovani dos Santos, once touted as the next big name to join Major League Soccer, joined the Galaxy in July of 2015. He went on to make 80 appearances for the Galaxy while scoring 27 goals and adding 23 assists across MLS competition in his 3 1/2 years with the club. But his high salary – earning him more than $17-million dollars during his time with the Galaxy – demanded big expectations.
When he started just 10 games in 2018 — a year that saw the Mexican International join his national team in Russia for the World Cup, but also saw him suffer sustained injuries throughout the rest of the season — the writing seemed to be on the wall.
Only the 2016 season stands apart for Giovani dos Santos as he scored both double digits goals (15), and assists (13) en route to being voted “LA Galaxy player of the year” by an online fan vote.
However, his sometimes contentious relationship with members of the media led the forward — and the highest paid player on the team — to stop talking to the press altogether and avoid fan interaction. Earlier in the month, at the “Night Navy” Kit release party, loud boos could be heard from some of the nearly 1,000 fans in attendance during his introduction.
Speculation surrounded the Galaxy for most of the offseason as they grappled with different solutions that would see the club retain Giovani dos Santos, but somehow restructure the contract to make him a non-DP to fit under the salary cap.
The MLS Players Union even got involved at one point, as they monitored the situation – determined to not allow a player to give up guaranteed money.
In the end however, the Galaxy did what was best for the club and te Kloese wasn’t shy about saying it.
“We have been working with the player this preseason to reach an agreement that is best for both sides,” said LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese. “We have come to this decision and believe that it is best for the club and for Giovani. We will work with the player and his representatives to find an on-field solution for the player’s next step. We appreciate what he has contributed to our club and wish him the best in his future.”
Technically speaking, and according to MLS Roster Rules, “A club may buy out one player who has a Guaranteed Contract (including a Designated Player’s) during the offseason and free up the corresponding Salary Budget space. Such a buyout is at the club’s expense.”
That expense is expected to cost the Galaxy more than $6-million. Possibly even $6.5-million.
And while this removes Giovani dos Santos from the Galaxy’s roster, it does not necessarily end his association with Major League Soccer. His contract is still held by the league. Meaning that the league can send him to another team outside of MLS or place him on waivers where other MLS teams could then bid for his services.
In some parallel universe, that might mean the Galaxy could see Giovani dos Santos on the other side of the field during the season.
But for the Galaxy, they now have money to spend. With Ibrahimovic vacating his $1.5-million salary from 2018, the Galaxy will now be able to acquire another player or two to fill that role.
Additionally, the Galaxy have money from the Ola Kamara deal ($3.5-million transfer fee). With $925,000 vacated from Kamara’s salary in TAM and up to $750,000 in GAM per league rules, the Galaxy could add another player.
And that isn’t something that is lost on te Kloese.
“This obviously frees up some funds,” he admitted. “We’ve been actively scouting in the last few months – since the new technical staff started – obviously with a clear idea of how to play. Taking the very, very best out of our current roster — and we’re happy with where we are with the current players — but we obviously need additions.
“We need to strengthen and deepen our roster in certain positions and we’re very actively doing that. Obviously, going forward with some acquisitions. Hopefully soon, but it also could take a little bit of time depending on the players that have been scouted and their availability.”
While the book closes on Giovani dos Santos’ tumultuous time with the Galaxy, a new story starts for a Galaxy team that seemed to be cash strapped and cap tied.
The transfer window will remain open until May 7, and it looks as if the Galaxy will be active shoppers until it closes.