[TRANSFER WATCH] Despite Landon Donovan's willingness to consider a permanent move abroad, the dynamics of an increasingly tight transfer market in England work against the Los Angeles Galaxy star's transfer. Among the factors: a weak transfer market, new roster rules and, as pointed out by Everton manager David Moyes, Donovan's age.
WEAK TRANSFER MARKET. Donovan has said he'd love to return to the Merseyside club, but Everton, whose chairman Bill Kenwright is looking for new investors, doesn't have the funds for an expensive transfer fee.
"We'd love to have Landon but he looks too expensive for us and we just don't have it," said Moyes. "We don't have the finances."
Everton has spent only 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) on 20-year-old forward Magaye Gueye of Strasbourg, relegated to the French third Division. Jermaine Beckford (Leeds) and Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw) were signed as free agents.
Added Moyes, "[We've] spent no money by Premier League standards and will probably be the ones who spend the least this season."
Only Manchester City has spent heavily on transfers, paying $110 million for Spanish midfielder David Silva from Valencia, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona, German defender Jerome Boateng from Hamburg and Serbian defender Aleksandar Kolarov.
Manchester United spent $30 million on Mexican Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling, but the other EPL contenders have spent modest amounts.
Arsenal's $12 million was spent on one player, 24-year-old defender Laurent Koscielny of French club Lorient, and champion Chelsea's lone acquisition has been Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool for $7 million.
Other key signings have been free agents: Moroccan forward Marouane Chamakh at Arsenal and Joe Cole and Serbian Milan Jovanovic at Liverpool.
Many clubs are heavily indebted, and the general European economy is very shaky, making Man. City very much the exception to the rule.
ROSTER RULES. Donovan has been linked to Manchester City, but its spending comes with a catch.
It must get its roster down to 25 senior players by Sept. 1, meaning as many 30 players could leave the club in the next month.
The pressure for clubs to get rid of players by Sept. 1 -- or keep them on their books but not be able to play them in the EPL -- means that other clubs can sit back and wait to snap up surplus players for a fraction of their transfer value or on loan.
The uncertainty of how the new rules will affect clubs has added to the caution on the transfer market.
DONOVAN'S AGE. Then there are the particularities of Donovan's situation.
Contending for a possible MLS championship in 2010, the Galaxy won't sell Donovan cheaply. Indeed, his value to the Galaxy and MLS -- after the World Cup he has become the most visible American soccer name since Mia Hamm -- is greater than his worth on the European market, where Donovan's success at Everton last winter followed three unhappy stints in Germany.
No figure has been revealed, but a price tag in the neighborhood of $15 million has often been mentioned.
"The price they want for him is very big," said Moyes, "and it's an additional problem because of his age."
Donovan is 28, meaning he is at the peak of his career and therefore his valuation. Factored into most transfer fees is a players' future re-sale price, meaning two years out, at age 30, he'll unlikely command what he commands today.
Of the players who have moved on the EPL summer market, Donovan is perhaps most similar to Benayoun, the attacking midfielder who signed with Chelsea from Liverpool.
The Reds are believed to have asked for $12 million, Chelsea countered at $6 million, and they settled on $7 million.
At 30, Benayoun is 22 months older than Donovan but he is a more proven commodity in Europe.
By contrast, Donovan will have trouble commanding the albeit bargain price of $10 million that Man United is believed to have paid Chivas for Hernandez.
Hernandez is only 22, meaning he has a greater potential upside. He is an out-of-out striker (as compared to Donovan, who was used in a support role on the right wing at Everton).
And "Chicharito" carries considerable value to United in the Mexican and the U.S. markets (you could make a case Hernandez would make more money for United in the USA than Donovan would).