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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Villa ready to introduce Keane

By Scott French

Final details of Galaxy forward Robbie Keane's loan deal to Aston Villa were being finalized Wednesday as the English Premier League club prepared to officially introduce the Irishman at its weekly news conference.


Keane will appear before the media Thursday, a Galaxy spokesman confirmed, and is expected to make his debut for Villa on Saturday against Everton, which has Landon Donovan on loan.

The deal was agreed to in principal last weekend but the clubs have been wading through what Villans manager Alex McLeish termed “red tape.” The loan is expected to last about 6 weeks, with Keane returning to L.A. in late February, and the Birmingham-based club -- owned by American Randy Lerner, who also owns the Cleveland Browns -- will pay a loan fee estimated at about $775,000.

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, in a conference call Tuesday with L.A.-based reporters, said that it was “safe to say Robbie will be going on loan to Aston Villa.”

The pluses to such a loan, he said, was the Keane (and Donovan) were “going to come into the end of our preseason in good form. Hopefully, they'll be in a good position to get us through the initial round of the Champions League as well as the opening games of MLS.”

The Galaxy plays March 7 at Toronto FC in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series and opens Major League Soccer play March 10 against Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center.

Keane, who had previously arranged to train with his former club Tottenham before the Galaxy opens preseason camp later this month, began practicing Monday with Villa, where he's been welcomed warmly. Among his new teammates is fellow Irish national-teamer Shay Given, the club's No. 1 goalkeeper.

“It's great for Villa to secure a player of Robbie's caliber, even in the short-term,” Given told media Tuesday. “I didn't know how fit he was before the last couple of days in training, but he looks really sharp, to be honest. We're all delighted that he's here, and I think he's just given the whole dressing room a lift. He's a big personality, and he's a big-game player. I think even in training the lads have been very impressed with what they've seen. I think it's a great boost to have him on board.

“Some of the young lads here can learn from a guy like Robbie Keane -- it's fantastic for them. I think the younger players will look up to him and learn from him. Not only that, he's only 31, so he's quite young, really. I think he will cause Premier League defenses plenty of problems when he's given a chance to play. If you give him a chance [to score], then nine times out of 10 he'll take it.”