Galaxy nearing deals for Cole, Van Damme and De Jong
Former English national team defender Ashley Cole has been bought out of the final five months of his contract with Italian club AS Roma, clearing the way for a transfer to the Galaxy. A deal could be formally announced as early as Tuesday.
The Galaxy also appears close to deals with Belgian defender Jelle Van Damme, 32, and AC Milan midfielder Nigel de Jong, 31. De Jong, who is under contract with his Italian club through 2018, needs to be bought out of his deal as well, but a resolution is believed to be close, awaiting only approval from the league and the Galaxy’s owners at AEG.
Out of the picture, apparently, is 33-year-old center back Joleon Lescott, who will likely remain with relegation-bound Aston Villa of the English Premier League.
The Galaxy, which opens training camp Friday, declined to comment about all four players Saturday.
Long considered one of the best defenders of his generation, Cole made more appearances on the back line than any player in English national team history. But he played just 14 competitive games -- none since last March -- after joining Roma on a two-year, $5.8-million contract in 2014.
The Galaxy can’t come close to matching that price since it has no designated player spots available. The team is not expected to commit the $800,000 in league allocation money to Cole, financing the deal instead with the buyout of the Roma contract.
What the Galaxy can offer Cole, though, is a place to play. However his addition at left back will likely push Robbie Rogers across the field to the right side.
Van Damme is also primarily a left back, although he can also play central defender, where he would replace Omar Gonzalez, sold by the Galaxy to Mexican club Pachuca last month. Van Damme, who has played in four European leagues, is currently with Belgian club Standard Liege, where he has served as captain.
De Jong, who has played in two World Cups for the Netherlands, is a holding midfielder and would likely replace Juninho, whom the Galaxy transferred to Tijuana.
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