LA Galaxy players have returned to Dignity Health Sports Park and the 2024 preseason has officially begun. The front office continues its transfer market activity as the squad gets up to speed.
On Tuesday, January 16th, the LA Galaxy announced that their preseason had officially kicked off. As the sounds of soccer return to the training complex at Dignity Health Sports, the team’s front office has made plenty of other noise.
After spending a few weeks considering the transaction, the LA Galaxy announced on Tuesday that they signed forward Miguel Berry to a two-year deal through to the end of 2025 with a club option to extend until 2026. LA first acquired Berry’s rights from Atlanta United back on December 19th, 2023 in exchange for their second-round pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft.
Miguel Berry offers a new physical profile for the Galaxy. At 6’3” he is the tallest LA Galaxy forward since Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Recently, the Galaxy has had Javier Hernandez and now Dejan Joveljić as strikers, both smaller players who count on clever positioning and service from their teammates to be dangerous. At 5’9 and 5’11, both have often been neutralized by physically imposing MLS defenders. Miguel Berry reintroduces size and its advantages to the Galaxy’s front line.
Berry could become an impact substitution and offer Greg Vanney a different dynamic up front. As someone capable of winning headers, he opens up an entirely new dimension for Galaxy attackers to exploit. Besides allowing him to win the ball in the air and compete with stronger opponents, Berry’s added mass gives him greater gravity in the box. As defenders close in on him to neutralize the aerial threat, space may become more available in other dangerous areas.
Will Kuntz and Greg Vanney seem to be aware that the best way to exploit this new dynamic is through width, as the next players on the shopping list are both wingers.
Also on Tuesday, Brazilian journalist Marco Vasconcelos reported that Vasco de Gama and LA Galaxy have agreed to terms for the transfer of 22-year-old winger Gabriel Pec. According to reports, documents have been signed, sealed, and delivered to the MLS offices. The only thing left for the move to be official is for the player to complete a physical with the Galaxy’s doctors.
Gabriel Pec is currently with Brazil’s Olympic Qualifiers squad and won’t be available for a physical until after the tournament. The CONMEBOL Olympic Qualifiers 2024 runs from January 20th to February 11th. After this, Pec will travel to Carson for his physical and, if all goes well, he’ll take his first photos in blue, white, and gold.
With the expectation being that Pec will have no issues passing the physical, it feels like just a matter of time until the Galaxy announces their newest Young Designated Player.
If the move does go through, Pec will become the most expensive player in LA Galaxy history. After confirming with sources, Josh Guesman affirmed reports that Vasco will receive $10M guaranteed, with an additional $1.5M available in performance incentives while retaining 30% of Pec’s future sale price (Vasco owns 20% and Pec owns 10% of his rights).
While Pec to LA is almost a formality a this point, the Galaxy is waiting for the resolution of their most recent offer.
On January 11th, Dutch journalist Bob Faesen broke the news that the LA Galaxy was interested in paying Genk the $8.5M release clause for their star-winger Joseph Paintsil. The 25-year-old Ghanaian scored 17 goals and contributed 14 assists last year in all competitions.
When the rumor first broke, it was reported that Paintsil had doubts about leaving Genk. While this may be worrying, it’s worth remembering that at 25, Paintsil’s next move will likely determine where he spends the bulk of his prime years. Careful consideration on the player’s part is expected.
Negotiations between the LA Galaxy and Paintsil have been developing for multiple weeks, but no agreement has been reached. To help sway his mind, the LA Galaxy has reportedly offered to double his current salary ($601,308/year per salarysport). It is unclear exactly how talks proceeded following this offer, but recent news suggests that discussions have been heading in the right direction.
At 6:00 AM PST on Wednesday, January 17th, Faeson reported that the LA Galaxy had submitted an official offer that matches Paintsil’s $8.5M release clause. As per the conventions of release clauses, Genk has accepted the offer. Now, the only party that the Galaxy needs to contend with is the player himself.
Talks between the Galaxy and the Paintsil’s team will continue as he competes with Ghana for the AFCON and it may be unlikely that this saga will be resolved before the tournament’s end. However, the fact that the Galaxy has put down real money for Paintsil suggests that an agreement may be close, if not already in place.
Although nothing is official yet between Paintsil and the Galaxy, the first media availability day of the season revealed that a deal may be close and that the squad is nearly complete.
On Thursday, January 19th, Diego Fagundez, Mark Delgado, Jalen Neal, Jonathan Bond, Maya Yoshida, Greg Vanney, and Will Kuntz spoke with media and shared some of their goals and expectations for the upcoming season.
While each presser is worth a listen, Will Kuntz’s words were especially interesting as he was very transparent with the club’s intentions for the rest of the offseason.
Kuntz reiterated how his current focus is ensuring the squad is fully prepared to compete before the season begins. He explains, “We don’t have the opportunity to drop games at any point in the season…so we do feel a little bit of time pressure to get guys in now… if you’re waiting for the summer you’re going to be down a massive part of your team”.
To this end, the front office has been busy acquiring depth for positions across the pitch. After signing Miki Yamane, Miguel Berry, John Nelson, and John McCarthy, Kuntz shared, “At the moment I feel really good about where we are as a squad with our backline depth and our midfield so we don’t feel pressure to add anything.” The task now is to add the finishing touches.
According to Kuntz, the Galaxy has planned on adding these flourishes to the wide areas. “I think the really important thing for us is getting a little bit more dynamic on the wing.” This isn’t surprising considering the players the Galaxy has been connected to (Ramón Sosa, Pablo Solari).
With Gabriel Pec’s contract allegedly signed and negotiations with Joseph Paintsil in advanced stages, Kuntz believes these new additions will be coming soon. He claims, “We’re very close with one DP target and I think in a pretty good way with what would be our third DP.”
The LA Galaxy has adopted and is executing a strategy that leaves many supporters feeling as if 2024 will be a turning point. When asked about his feelings for the season, Kuntz mirrored this sentiment, saying, “The state of the Galaxy for me right now is really exciting. There’s a lot of optimism…that we really have a chance to turn things around.”
There is plenty of news to come in the weeks before the season opener on February 25th. Be sure to follow Nuestra Galaxia Fútbolera on X and Instagram to stay informed on all the incoming signings. Subscribe to LAX Sports Nation and follow us on social media to enhance your fan experience.
PHOTO: LA Galaxy