It took a little longer than expected and it was a lot more complicated than anticipated, but the Galaxy and LAFC both landed the young South American players they were looking for Wednesday, just hours before the close of the MLS secondary transfer window.
The Galaxy added attacker Cristian Pavon, a 23-year-old World Cup veteran, on loan from Argentine club Boca Juniors while LAFC purchased teenage winger Brian Rodriguez from Uruguay’s Penarol. Both players still must complete visa and international transfer certificate paperwork, which could keep them from playing this weekend.
The Galaxy’s pursuit of Pavon lasted months and often tested the patience of general manager Dennis te Kloese, who appeared to be near an agreement several times only to see the goalposts move. The broad outlines of the deal have been known for some time: a free loan with a first-year salary funded with targeted allocation money (TAM) through the end of this season and an option to extend the loan for next season.
The Galaxy would then have an option to buy Pavon’s rights from Boca Juniors after the 2020 season, although the cost is reported to be exorbitant with The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio reporting the price at an MLS-record $20 million.
The particulars are important because the Galaxy, who don’t have an open designated-player spot, are limited in what they can pay Pavon this year. Just to fund the deal for the rest of 2019, the team had to raise $386,000 in TAM by sending midfielder Ema Boateng to D.C. United and trading $200,000 in general allocation money to Orlando City.
But the DP contracts of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini expire at the end of the year, giving Te Kloese salary flexibility going forward. The Galaxy, and especially coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, are convinced Pavon — once on the radar of European clubs such as Roma and Arsenal — will be well worth whatever headaches it took to get him here.
Schelotto coached Pavon at Boca Juniors, for which he scored 21 goals and had 24 assists in 80 games in the Argentine first division. However Pavon has fallen out of favor with the club and is counting on a reunion with his former coach to get his career back on track.
Schelotto and the struggling Galaxy, who have lost nine of their last 14 to drop to fifth in the Western Conference standings, hope Pavon can energize an offense that is 21st in the 24-team MLS in goals. An excellent passer who can also play in the middle, Pavon will be counted on to get the ball to Ibrahimovic before becoming the focus of the attack next year.
For LAFC, the deal to acquire Rodriguez, 19, follows equally complicated negotiations that included an agreement to play a 2020 friendly with Penarol as well as an exchange of coaching, academy and player resources. Details of the signing were not released and it was not announced until an hour after the team sold forward Christian Ramirez to the Houston Dynamo for as much as $325,000 in allocation money.
Rodriguez had one goal and four assists in nine league games in Uruguay this season and also started five of the six group-stage matches in the Copa Libertadores, picking up three assists.
The addition of Rodriguez makes the league’s best team even better, but its real value could come later if Diego Rossi, who joined LAFC from Penarol as a teenager last season, leaves for Europe. Sky Italia said this week that Serie A club Fiorentina is preparing a $17-million offer for the player, although an LAFC executive questioned that report, saying it’s unlikely Rossi will leave during the current European transfer period.