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Robbie Keane says joining Galaxy 'an easy decision'

The former English Premier League player is newest high-profile talent for team that features David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

August 19, 2011|By Matt Stevens
  • Newest Galaxy player Robbie Keane, left, sits with new teammates Landon Donovan and David Beckham during a press conference Friday at Home Depot Center.
Newest Galaxy player Robbie Keane, left, sits with new teammates Landon… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Four years later, the Galaxy is at it again.

Friday afternoon, the team introduced Irish striker Robbie Keane as the third high-profile and expensive talent to set foot in Carson. Perhaps appropriately, Keane sat next to Landon Donovan and David Beckham at his first news conference.

"I certainly had a good feeling about this move," Keane said. "I played in the Premiership for a long, long time and scored a lot of goals there. I just felt it was time for a new challenge. … For me, it was an easy decision."

Keane, 31, joins a team with experience in making splashy signings. Like Beckham and Donovan before him, Keane brings solid credentials to both the Galaxy and the MLS. He is the Irish national team's captain and all-time leading scorer, ranks 10th all time in scoring in the English Premier League, and has more than 250 goals over a 15-year career.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Times that Keane signed a 21/2-year contract that will pay him a yearly salary much closer to Donovan's $2.5 million than to Beckham's $6.5 million. The deal contains an option for an additional season.

"Three years ago, if you had asked me if we could present these types of players, I'd say you're crazy," said a pleased Bruce Arena, the team's coach and general manager.

Critics charge Galaxy team owner AEG with spending exorbitantly to bring in players with star power such as Beckham, Donovan and now Keane. All three are labeled as the team's "designated players," who can be paid above the league salary cap.

His injuries and two stints on loan to AC Milan caused some Galaxy fans to label the "Beckham Experiment" a failure. Like Beckham, Keane aims to shuttle between Los Angeles and Ireland as his national team prepares for two important matches against Slovakia and Russia in September.

Keane dismissed concerns about his travel, assuring fans that "I'm ready to play football for the Galaxy." The team has the top record in the league and is firmly the favorite to win its first MLS Cup in the Beckham era.

"We don't mind having a target on our back," AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke said. "They understand the pressure that's on us, and they understand that everyone dislikes us. … So my message to the rest of the league is, 'If you don't like it, go get your own.' "

matthew.stevens@latimes.com

twitter.com/mattstevenslat

Times staff writer Grahame Jones contributed to this report.

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