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Posted: Wednesday November 12, 2008 10:50AM; Updated: Wednesday November 12, 2008 11:19AM
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INSIDE SOCCER

What's Donovan doing at Bayern?

Story Highlights

Landon Donovan is on a 10-day practice stint with German power Bayern Munich

Speculation is that the American star is looking to make the move permanent

Bayern coach Jürgen Klinsmann knows Donovan well from his role with the Galaxy

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Landon Donovan is in Munich for a 10-day training run with German superclub Bayern.
Landon Donovan is in Munich for a 10-day training run with German superclub Bayern.
AP

By Mike Woitalla, Special to SI.com, Soccer America

Landon Donovan is training for 10 days at Bayern Munich to stay fit, according to Bayern coach Jürgen Klinsmann. But some German media have called his visit a trial and speculate that he could be a replacement for unhappy striker Lukas Podolski, the subject of winter transfer rumors.

Klinsmann, quite familiar with Donovan from his years as a Southern California resident and his stint as Los Angeles Galaxy technical advisor, said, "He's a good guy, a very good soccer player, and a big personality in American soccer. He's training with us for 10 days to keep his fitness level." (Click here for photos of Donovan at Bayern.)

"What does Klinsmann want with the Hollywood Striker?" asked the Bild newspaper, which noted that "Beckham's Buddy" is married to actress Bianca Kajlich (of Dawson's Creek and Boston Public fame).

Bild also launched an online poll, "Can Donovan really help Klinsi?" More than 3,000 votes were tallied on the first day.

Klinsmann took the helm of Bayern last summer, and brought along Mexican-American Martin Vasquez as assistant coach. Klinsmann had a rocky start but Bayern has climbed to within one point of first place.

Donovan, 26, has won three MLS titles -- two with the San Jose Earthquakes and one with the Galaxy. But he has missed postseason play for three straight seasons with the Galaxy.

Donovan has had two previous stints in Germany. He signed with Bayer Leverkusen at 17 in 1999 and spent two years with the club without breaking into the first team. He returned to Leverkusen for three months in 2005 and played seven Bundesliga games (no goals, one assist) before returning to MLS.

Despite the Galaxy's struggles, Donovan is coming off the most productive of his eight MLS seasons. He led the league in scoring with 20 goals and had nine assists.

Germany's Kicker magazine speculated on the possibility of Bayern signing Donovan: "[He] can play anywhere in the attack, but at Leverkusen shone only at practice." Kicker, which claims Klinsmann wanted Donovan last summer, said that Donovan could serve as a backup to starting strikers Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose, and thus replace Podolski in the role that made him unhappy.

If Bayern does end up wanting to sign Donovan, MLS may place a price tag on him beyond what Bayern would find reasonable. And Donovan's national team commitments -- frequent transatlantic trips for World Cup qualifying -- would drop his value from Bayern's perspective.

"I would love to go," Donovan was quoted as saying on his Web site. "The unfortunate part about the soccer world in that sense is that it isn't up to me. There are a lot of issues with the league and with the Galaxy also. Obviously if I was in the Galaxy's position, I wouldn't be totally for it; but in my situation, I would love to go, and if the opportunity comes and the league and the Galaxy are cooperative and willing to work with me, I think it would be fun. We'll see what happens."

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