The Galaxy's pursuit of Ashley Cole lasted far longer than expected but it ended happily Wednesday when the team formally announced the acquisition of the English defender.
Terms of the deal were not announced, but a Galaxy official who declined to speak about the negotiations publicly said the team did not use targeted allocation money to sign Cole. His salary from the Major League Soccer team is expected to be less than $300,000, another source said.
Cole's signing comes a day after the Galaxy announced the acquisition of Belgian defender Jelle Van Damme, further beefing up a back line that had been weakened by the transfer of center back Omar Gonzalez to Pachuca of the Mexican league. In addition, the Galaxy remains hopeful of adding another European, Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong, but De Jong must win release from his contract with Italian club Milan first.
"We'll be an awful lot stronger, from goalkeeper to center forward," said Galaxy midfielder Stephen Gerrard, Cole's teammate with the English national team. "They're very good footballers and they'll improve us defensively. That's where we went wrong last year."
Added captain Robbie Keane: "I think we needed a shake-up. If you look at every team, regardless how good you are, every team always gets new faces in to freshen things up. To have a different approach maybe in certain games.
"[This] will make us a really, really solid group."
Long considered one of the best defenders of his generation, Cole has made more appearances on the back line than any man in English national team history. He also played club soccer for Arsenal and Chelsea, winning four English Premier League titles and a Champions League crown before jumping to Italy's Roma in 2014.
His career stalled there, however, with Cole playing in just 16 games over parts of two seasons. He is expected to play at left back for the Galaxy, pushing Robbie Rogers across the field to the right side.
"It's a great time in his career to just shut up his critics and play," said Bruce Arena, the Galaxy's coach and general manager. "Come here and enjoy America."
The Galaxy believed it had an agreement with Cole nearly a month ago. But before the team could sign him Cole had to negotiate a release from Roma, which spent a reported $5.4 million on him 18 months ago.
That release came last week, after which the Galaxy had to wait for MLS to sign off on the free-transfer deal before it could be announced Wednesday.
The Galaxy is going through a similar process now with De Jong, whose contract with Milan runs through 2018.
De Jong would fill the midfield hole left by the December sale of Juninho to Tijuana. But the additions of the 35-year-old Cole, the 32-year-old Van Damme and the 31-year-old De Jong will also make the Galaxy one of the oldest teams in MLS since they'll be joining a starting lineup that already includes Gerrard and Keane, who are both 35, and new goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, 33.