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Donovan to refuse Leverkusen return
07/12/02
www.onefootball.com

Bayer Leverkusen are set for showdown talks with Landon Donovan after the USA striker revealed he has no intention of returning to the club when his loan spell at the San Jose Earthquakes expires in October.

"I had a bitter experience and it's kind of hard for me to forget what happened there," he said. "Obviously the people at Leverkusen have a huge say in it, but I've made it clear that I don't want to be there.

"We have spoken with Leverkusen and I made it very clear that I'd like to stay here - not only from a soccer standpoint," Donovan added to AP.

"I love my family, I love my coaches, I love my organisation here and there's something to be said for waking up every day and seeing sunshine outside. People often forget that."

Donovan failed to make the grade in his first spell at Bayer after signing as a 16-year-old in 1999. He returned to the MLS on loan without starting a match for the BayArena club.

Since then, he has grown in stature with every season and, after leading the San Jose Earthquakes to the MLS title in 2001, shone for the USA at the World Cup, scoring twice as Bruce Arena's side reached the quarter-finals.

Donovan believes he still he has a future in Europe, but has warned Leverkusen he will not be rushed back against his wishes.

"To be honest, I'm not that worried about how far I develop as a player," Donovan said. "I've come to realise that there's more important things in my life. I've proved to myself that I can compete at the highest level.

"I just don't think it's that important to me to leave my family and friends. I would rather be around my family and friends and my team-mates with the Quakes and make less money to be close to the people I love."

Leverkusen managing director Reiner Calmund revealed in June that Donovan would be called back when his loan spell expires. "Donovan will finish the Major League Soccer season, then return to us in October. We will be very happy to get him back," he said.

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