Joseph Paintsil's move to LA Galaxy could be a masterstroke for his career

Joseph Paintsil's move to LA Galaxy could be a masterstroke for his career
Joseph Paintsil has recently moved to LA Galaxy
Joseph Paintsil has recently moved to LA Galaxy
Just a month ago, Joseph Paintsil (26) had his head buried in his hands; disappointed, devastated, and confused. Ghana had just been essentially knocked out of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after surrendering a two-goal lead against Mozambique.

Sitting on top of the trends on social media back in Ghana was Joseph Paintsil. Many were muddled by the fact that the winger didn’t come out for the second half despite being one of Ghana’s best players. He was replaced at the break by captain Andre Ayew with the then-head coach Chris Hughton citing fatigue as the reason for subbing off Paintsil.

The player after the game quizzed the choice of the coach stating “what fatigue?” to a section of the media as the team made their way to the bus. It felt like a clear case of ‘much ado about nothing’ as the efforts of the player weren’t appreciated.

Once again talks of Paintsil’s Black Stars career have popped up after the 26-year-old chose to join La Galaxy signing a four-year deal. 

Asked at the LA Galaxy press conference whether he was ever sceptical about the move to the Major League Soccer (MLS), Paintsil replied: “I knew this move was going to happen because I really wanted to come.”

Many questioned if moving to America would stall his promising development. Some worried the perceived lower standard of MLS would even cost Paintsil his Black Stars spot. But looking closely, this transfer could be a masterstroke by the Ghanaian speedster. 

Bigger, better league

While the MLS quality debate rages on, the fact is the league has grown exponentially since David Beckham ushered in the Designated Player (DP) era in 2007. 

Major investment has developed infrastructure and attracted global talents like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Thierry Henry late in their careers.

The difference today is more elite players are arriving in their prime like Sebastian Giovinco, Miguel Almiron, and Carlos Vela. LA Galaxy boasts former Barcelona wonderkid Riqui Puig, a player Paintsil will look forward to linking up with.

The league keeps improving with more infusion of technical foreign talent. Inter Miami has just signed highly-rated midfielder Federico Redondo from Argentine side Argentinos Juniors to add to a cocktail of superstars ranging from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba.

Skilled playmaker Thiago Almada (22) signed for Atlanta United in 2022 for over $16 million as a Young DP and was part of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup-winning squad.

MLS clubs are increasingly signing promising talents from and also developing elite young Americans and Canadians.

Four of the last five MLS MVPs were under 30 while young domestic players like Brenden Aaronson have shown the American development model is yielding fruits. With football exploding in popularity nationwide, standards have risen sharply as MLS academies cultivate the next generation.

Paintsil will face quality teammates in training and robust opposition week to week. And under the bright Hollywood lights, the speedy winger has a perfect stage to take his game up another level.  

Securing the bag

A major incentive for Paintsil is the significant salary increase he will enjoy as a new DP in the MLS. 

The league introduced the DP Rule in 2007 enabling teams to sign up to three players outside their salary cap. DPs earn much higher wages, often double or triple what they made in Europe. 

For instance, Paintsil will reportedly earn around $2 million a year with LA Galaxy. His previous salary at Genk was estimated to be $800,000 annually. 

At 26 years old, Paintsil is maximizing his earning potential by making this move now, setting himself up for long-term financial security.

Also, the player will have the opportunity of living in the Los Angeles metropolis which encapsulates the picture-perfect beauty of Southern California living with its sun-soaked beaches, rolling hills, and majestic mountain vistas.

LA remains the quintessential California dream for so many seeking both beauty and opportunity and with Paintsil starting to take his music career seriously, he couldn’t have been in a better environment to enhance his artistic side.

Consider David Beckham's sensational five years in LA and how it transformed the league's profile and ambition. The English icon became a domestic superstar stateside through his Galaxy success, ushering in the era of big DP signings.  

A charismatic, dynamic player like Paintsil has a similar opportunity to thrive in the LA spotlight. His pace and direct attacking style are a perfect fit for thrilling MLS matches. If he can score at a similar rate as he did at Genk, Paintsil will quickly become a fan favourite.

With his trademark backflips and fun-loving persona, the Galaxy faithful will be doing backflips of joy if Paintsil brings his A-game each week. Living and playing in America's entertainment capital, the young Ghanaian could transcend his sport and build an iconic personal brand in the Beckham mould.  

A major step in development

Critics also overlook the major investments MLS clubs have made in coaching, analytics, and facilities. LA Galaxy boasts one of the best football stadiums in North America and a $150 million training complex with over $35 million in upgrades since 2013.

The 125-acre state-of-the-art facility has one stadium field, and nine training fields and also houses the US men’s and women’s national teams for football and tennis.

Paintsil will work under Galaxy coach Greg Vanney, a former US national team stalwart with an established track record of getting the best from attacking players. 

Vanney couldn’t hide his admiration for Paintsil as he kept smiling whenever the winger spoke at the press conference. “We are pleased to add a player of Joseph's quality to the LA Galaxy,” said the LA Galaxy head coach. 

The club's sizable analytics department leverages data and technology for competitive advantages both on and off the field. 

With access to elite infrastructure, world-class coaches, bespoke analytics, and one of the globe's largest fanbases as a Galaxy player, Paintsil has everything required to maximise his potential.

A gateway to Europe is still available

So rather than sounding the MLS death knell for Joseph Paintsil, this transfer could spark the talented player’s ascent to stardom. Securing his financial future, playing in front of vociferous fans, and working with elite coaches - LA Galaxy offers everything Paintsil needs to fulfill his immense potential.

In the worst case, if it doesn’t work out in the USA, the improving profile and quality of MLS has seen a growing number of standout performers earn big moves to Europe recently. 

Alphonso Davies joined Bayern Munich in 2018 after bursting onto the scene as a teenager with Vancouver Whitecaps. 

Miguel Almirón's attacking exploits for Atlanta United led to a $27 million transfer to Premier League side Newcastle in 2019. 

After a prolific spell with FC Dallas, midfielder Weston McKennie secured a switch to Italian giants Juventus in 2020. 

More recently, Brenden Aaronson impressed in the Philadelphia Union midfield before being snapped up by Red Bull Salzburg. He joined Leeds United and featured in the Premier League but was loaned to Bundesliga side Union Berlin for the 2022/23 season.

Brenden Aaronson playing for Leeds United

Brenner, who was seen as a rising Brazilian talent, joined FC Cincinnati from São Paulo in 2021 and is now with Serie A side Udinese.

21-year-old Ismael Kone, who won the Golden Boot at the U-21 CONCACAF Championship, joined CF Montreal in 2021 and is now with Watford in the Championship.

These success stories demonstrate how MLS has become a viable pathway to prestigious European leagues for those who excel stateside. The spike in transfers from the MLS to Europe underscores how increased visibility and competition in MLS can serve as an effective springboard to a higher-profile career abroad.

It’s not goodbye to the Black Stars

The final factor may be the most important one—keeping his Black Stars place. Despite his ability, Paintsil faces intense competition for minutes in a stacked Ghana team. After limited playing time at 2023 AFCON, he will be hungry to regain his starting spot.

Moving to LA provides Paintsil with the platform for regular starts and strong performances to stay in the minds of Ghanaians. While MLS games may not draw huge crowds back home, if Paintsil shines it’ll be difficult to ignore him.

What matters is match fitness and sharpness. If Paintsil arrives motivated and tears up MLS with the Galaxy, Ghana will happily select a star playing in America's growing league.

After all, Jonathan Mensah during his days at Columbus Crew SC made Ghana’s final 2019 AFCON squad with New York City FC midfielder Ebenezer Ofori making the provisional squad.

Even back in 2017, coach Kwesi Appiah included Columbus Crew trio Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, and midfielder Mohammed Abu, Chicago Fire forward David Accam, Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution, and midfielder Kwadwo Poku, who was on loan at Miami FC, in Ghana’s squad for the friendlies against the USA and Mexico.

The new direction of the MLS includes seeing superstars in the league replicate their club form with their respective national teams.

"We want our league to be perceived as high-quality, so for our players to represent their national teams on a global stage helps reinforce that and remind fans of the world-class players in their backyards," Camilo Durana, the executive vice president of properties and events for MLS, told FOX Sports.

Owuraku Ampofo


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