Following AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke's comments to Sports Illustrated about the LA Galaxy's interest in Real Madrid midfielder Kaká, many have speculated about what it would take to bring the Brazilian international to The Home Depot Center.
The Brazilian addressed the speculation for the first time on Tuesday after Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Ajax in UEFA Champions League play. The match was a rare start for the 30-year-old Brazilian, who also scored a goal and wore in the captain's armband in Real's victory over the Dutch side. Several reports have stated that Real Madrid's President Florentino Perez would like to remove Kaká's 10-million Euros a year salary from the Spanish club's already hefty payroll.
“I have nothing at the moment,” Kaká said of the Galaxy speculation according to ESPN. “I keep doing my work to remain at Madrid. Then, we can see what happens and what the club wants. It is not a comfortable situation for the club or me...I will go if I have an agreement with the club.”
When asked to address Kaká's comments during his end of the season teleconference with local media, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena chose not to comment on any speculation, rather simply stating that Kaká is a "great player." However, when asked if the Galaxy could afford a player like Kaká, Arena admitted that he will have conversations with ownership about the cost of any potential new acquisitions.
“We can afford whatever, Tim Leiweke and Phil Anschutz say we can afford. Those kinds of decisions really go up the ladder and each situation as it comes our way is evaluated. We have had literally, over the four years I’ve been here, discussions over a couple dozen players and the financial impact that it has on our business. In the case of any player we do that," said Arena on Wednesday. "We don’t discuss acquisitions or transfers or anything of players with other teams. That’s ethically wrong…at this point in time; I’m not going to have a public opinion of one player over the other unless those players are free agents."
In his end of the season teleconference with local reporters on Wednesday, Bruce Arena confirmed that the LA Galaxy are working to bring Brazilian midfielder Juninho back for the 2013 season.
Juninho re-joined the LA Galaxy in February on a year-long loan from his hometown club São Paulo FC after returning the Brazilian giants briefly following the 2011 season. The 23-year-old Brazilian's third season with the Galaxy -- all three coming while on loan -- was undoubtedly his finest yet as he started in 30 of his 32 appearances while tallying seven goals and four assists during the regular season. In the postseason, he remained incredibly effective for LA, starting five of his six appearances while notching two assists.
With David Beckham already gone for the 2013 season, keeping Juninho remains a high priority for Arena as well as AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke.
"We've been working on that for awhile," said Arena. "We'll keep working on it, we're hopeful that we can bring him back."
During a conference call with L.A.-based reporters, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena stated that he does not expect midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson or forward Chad Barrett back for the 2013 season.
Wilhelmsson made nine appearances for the Galaxy in regular season and postseason play, tallying one goal and one assist. The Swedish midfielder was not at present at the club's championship celebration on Monday to tend to his pregnant wife Oksana in Sweden.
"I don't expect Wilhelmsson to be back," said Arena on Wednesday. "He has other options that he wants to look at."
Meanwhile, Barrett was among the six players -- Brian Perk, Bryan Jordan, Kyle Nakazawa, Pat Noonan, Andrew Boyens being the others -- who were made available for the Re-Entry Draft process. Arena stated that Barrett, who has been on loan with Norwegian club Valerenga since late-July would not return, but the door remained open for the other five players made available for the Re-Entry Draft.
"We will not be re-signing Barrett for sure," said Arena. "The others, we will remain in conversation with and see if we can work it out with them. My advice to a number of them is to go through the first phase of the Re-Entry Draft positions you to be in a more favorable position in all honesty."
Arena also confirmed that he anticipates that some players that were made available for the Re-Entry Draft process may pull out of the draft before the Thursday deadline at 2 p.m. PT.
Bruce Arena confirmed in his end of the season teleconference with reporters that the club will be signing defender Oscar Sorto.
“Oscar Sorto will be signed. He'll be part of our club in 2013," said Arena. "Oscar will be signed, we want to sign Oscar.”
The 18-year-old outside back from South Central Los Angeles has made seven starts for the LA Galaxy Under-18s this season tallying three goals. Sorto has been training with the Galaxy first team since August and was a regular on LA’s MLS Reserve League Western Division champion team making six appearances for the squad. Sorto also received some experience abroad earlier this year when he trained with Swedish club Hammarby IK for a week in August.
During the teleconference, Arena said that "possibly" other Homegrown targets could be signed. Arena also stated that "no decisions made" on midfielder Raul Mendiola and confirmed that the club remains interested in Cal State-Bakersfield forward Gyasi Zardes.
A couple of thoughts from several LA Galaxy players that spoke at last night's Championship Celebration.
*Robbie Keane, on any potential offseason loan: "I haven't even thought of it, to be honest with you. I look forward to a rest now. It's been a long season for me, I've played a lot of football. It's not certain now. I'll think about it in a couple of weeks."
*Landon Donovan on the Galaxy fans "ten more years chant" : "I don't know if I'll be able to walk in 10 more years, so I don't know what they're thinking. It was nice. I appreciated it."
A few other notes from around the league...
* FC Dallas re-signed center back George John to a multi-year deal on Tuesday. John had previously garnered interest from teams abroad.
*In his end of the season press conference, Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said that he would not be surprised if Brian Ching came back for his tenth season in MLS. Kinnear also said that there is no word on the extent of forward Calen Carr's injury.
*Philadelphia Union youngster Zach Pfeffer will be going to German club Hoffenheim after a year-long loan agreement was reached.
The LA Galaxy's season ended just days ago, but it's never too soon to start looking at next year.
The Team LA store at The Home Depot Center has already begun selling team polos and rain jackets with the LA Galaxy logo with three stars over the crest. Remember, MLS teams wear a scudetto on the right side of their crest that signifies their status as MLS Cup champions.
Below is a photo that I snapped of the logo on a polo. A photo of the logo on a rain jacket can be found on Instagram
This may not be LA Galaxy-related, but the soccer world lost an important person today in 41-year-old former Colombian national team goalkeeper Miguel Calero.
The announcement that Calero had passed away due to complications from cerebral thrombosis -- the most common type of stroke-- came from his longtime club Pachuca on Tuesday afternoon. Calero had been hospitalized since Nov. 26 after suffering cerebral thrombosis at his home in Pachuca, Mexico.
Calero spent 11 years with Pachuca until his retirement in 2011 due to persistent arm injuries. During his time with Pachuca, Calero won three Mexican titles with Los Tuzos (the Gophers) and became well-known to Galaxy fans after helping Pachuca win the 2007 Superliga title over LA. Calero came up large during that penalty shootout numerous times including saving a penalty kick from Landon Donovan to help seal Pachuca's win.
By far the funniest speech of the night, below is Bruce Arena's speech at the LA Galaxy's Championship Celebration
Below is Landon Donovan's Championship Celebration speech.
Below is David Beckham's complete speech from today's LA Galaxy Championship Celebration.