Plaudits for Landon Donovan from Bayern Munich imply his 10-day training stint with the German power may yet turn into a long-term relationship. For his part, Donovan said, "I'm ready" and was quoted as saying some things his MLS colleagues might not be too happy about. The tabloid Bild, meanwhile, managed to invoke Barack Obama in its Donovan coverage.
A Nov. 13 article in Sport1.de, headlined "Donovan-Flirt with Bayern gets hotter," reports that Donovan's visit to Germany's most successful club may be more than a "PR Gag." It quotes Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann as saying, "Landon is a player who brings all the qualities it takes to make it in Europe. He is the top player in North America, including Mexico. In the past six years he was named U.S. Player of the Year five times and has kept improving step by step."
After Donovan's first three days of training with Bayern, general manager Uli Hoeness made his first comments on the 26-year-old American who is coming off an MLS-leading 20-goal, 9-assist season with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"What I have seen was OK," Hoeness said. "He can play. He'll be here for 10 days, and after that I can say more."
Sport1.de pointed out that with Italian Luca Toni and Germans Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (who reportedly wants to leave the club), Bayern has only three true frontline men, making Donovan a viable candidate to strengthen the offense, at least for this season, which is near the halfway mark.
"He is an outstanding player with many qualities and he is only 26," said Klose about Donovan on Bayern's official Web site. "I do think he can deal with the Bundesliga."
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Klinsmann invited Donovan to train with Bayern during the summer when Klinsmann took the helm, but that Donovan couldn't because the MLS season was still underway.
On Bayern Munich's Web site, Donovan was quoted as saying he's impressed with the level of play: "Here all the players, No. 1 to No. 22, are better. In America, there are only one or two good players in every team."
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted Donovan as saying that each MLS team has at the most "two or three who could keep up in the Bundesliga."
"This is a huge chance for me to play good soccer," Donovan told Sport1.de of his training with Bayern. "I want to see if I can hold my own with such super players. In the last few years I still had eyes on Europe and would very much like to play in Europe."
Donovan said he had no expectations on a deal with Bayern, "but everyday here is a little easier for me. If it turns out that after next Thursday, I return [to the USA], I'll still be happy. But we'll see."
He had two previous stints -- both unsatisfactory -- in Germany, as a teenager in 1999-2001 with Bayer Leverkusen's reserve teams and a 7-game run with Leverkusen in 2005.
"I was too young back then and said, 'This country is not for me,'" Donovan told Sport1.de. "But that was my problem. I wasn't ready. Now I'm much different as a player and as a person."
Donovan is fluent in German. So is his wife of two years, the actress Bianca Kajlich, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
The tabloid Bild led its latest Donovan article with: "'Yes, we can!' That was the slogan of new U.S. President Barack Obama. So naturally, that's what Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann said about current training-guest Landon Donovan, albeit on a lesser dimension. But still, 'Yes, he can!'"
Bayern would have to pay a transfer fee to MLS to acquire Donovan. A risky investment, says the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which added that while Klinsmann isn't revealing how likely he is to sign Donovan -- or how much he would pay for him -- "what we do know about Klinsmann: He isn't afraid of taking risks."
GERMAN HEADLINES ON DONOVAN
"Klinsmann is Enthusiastic About Donovan"
"High Praise from Klinsmann: Donovan is Ready for Bayern"
-- Suddeutsche Zeitung
"Are you good enough for Bayern, Herr Donovan?"
"Klinsmann Buddy wants to strengthen Bayern"
-- Die Welt
"Donovan: 'I want to play in Europe"
-- Bayern Munich official Web site
"Donovan-Flirt with Bayern gets hotter"