CARSON, CA - APRIL 01: Marcelo Saragosa #5 of Chivas USA plays the ball clear from Juninho #19 of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first half during their MLS match at the Home Depot Center on April 1, 2010 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated Chivas USA 2-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
And his contract situation, that is. At the end of the season, his loan deal from Brazilian club Sao Paulo expires.
From what I understand, as of now Juninho plans to fly back to Brazil and report to San Paulo, however negotiations have already begun behind the scenes on a price for the 22 year old midfielder and fan favorite. Signing Juninho to a permanent deal with the Galaxy might prove to be difficult, though.
If David Beckham re-signs with the Galaxy, which is looking increasingly likely, Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan will occupy the 3 Designated Player spots, so they can't sign him to a DP contract.
Which leads to the big concern: The transfer fee. As it turns out, transfer fees count against the salary cap, with the cumulative cost of both the transfer fee and the player's salary finalizing the salary cap hit. (With this in mind, it's no wonder so few MLS teams buy players from other clubs)
Whether or not LA manages to hold onto Juninho is dependent on how much Sao Paulo wants, though the signs are positive. The two clubs penned an official partnership in 2005, with Marcelo Saragosa and Paulo Nagamura arriving on loan then signing permanently in past seasons.
And while Juninho arguably deserves a modest raise on the 90K he made this season, he is obviously happy playing for the Galaxy and motivated to stay in LA. At the same time, with a first team spot for Juninho back home probably not in the cards, Sao Paulo is a motivated seller.
The Galaxy have helped their cause by winning the Supporter's Shield and qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League, earning allocation money that can be used to buy down Juninho's price. Wisely, LA has also acquired allocation money by trading players, roster spots and other shrewd deals. Who said trading Tristan Bowen wasn't a good idea?
It also helps that LA isn't Sandy, Utah. (Trust me, I've been there)