So, Landon, it appears you wouldn’t mind extending your loan deal for a little longer. True, you haven’t really come out and announced anything, and your diplomacy is laudable. Respecting your fans and current employers in Los Angeles rather than making petulant transfer demands displays honor and good character, and others would do well to note your example (Joleon... paying attention?).
Your silence is telling, though. You could have put the rumors to bed long ago, yet you allow them to persist. One makes certain assumptions, and as politically savvy as you seem to be, no doubt those general assumptions are not lost on you. David Moyes has publicly alleged that all parties are keen on extending your loan deal with Everton, and for a man who clearly stated his disgust for unsettling players throughout last summer’s Lescott/Manchester City drama, that’s saying something. You and Moyes have talked. You’re both “keen”. Everybody knows.
Unfortunately, your boss in LA, Bruce Arena, has reiterated the MLS party line in no uncertain terms: “We're not interested [in extending the loan]. Landon will be back here on March 15, as we have said all along.” A pretty damning statement, as far as your desires are concerned.
Arena’s position is understandable – you are his best player by far, and without you in his team, his job gets harder. Bruce seems like a good guy and a decent manager, and the history you share, both with the Galaxy and during his tenure as the US National Team coach, has probably generated an uncommon level of mutual respect and friendship.
That relationship only means so much, apparently. The stand Arena has taken against your loan extension shows where your personal welfare ranks on his priority list: below his job duties. Far enough below, in fact, so that he has no qualms in undermining a deal you so obviously want. Good for Bruce for being committed to making his team as good as possible, but his motivations are not the same as yours, nor should they be.
So what are your motivations? Money? Prestige? A new challenge? There is a long list of reasons why Everton suits your private ambitions better than MLS can, and those reasons have no doubt been rehashed to death by your advisers and by everyone at Everton who wants you to stay. Money, personal accolades, and a desire to test yourself may be compelling considerations on their own, but there is something greater at stake here: an opportunity to force real progress upon American soccer.
David Beckham’s arrival in the United States was supposed to be that great leap forward, but it didn’t really happen, partly because he has made it quite clear that he would rather be in Milan. To be fair, MLS’s model was flawed as well, as it sought to buy its way past the entrenched xenophobic prejudice of adult American sports fans rather than appeal directly to those without a built-in block. This is where you come in, Landon.
Today in the USA, people have unprecedented access to European football. Kids have always played the game here – its status as most-played among all sports in America is well publicized and unquestioned. However, in the not-too-distant past, young players in America reached a certain age and switched their focus to different sports like baseball, basketball, and football, in large part because these sports afforded them the chance to idolize and mimic the professional athletes they saw on television. Televised, romanticized American sports allowed kids to dream of athletic achievement in ways that soccer did not.
The recent rise of television channels like Fox Soccer Channel, Gol TV, and until this year, Setanta, have shown soccer-playing kids in the States that there are places where excellence in soccer is rewarded with the same honors granted to American football and basketball players. Kids are taking note. You can now go to the parks and backyards of America and find kids pretending to be Ronaldo and Messi, in addition to LeBron James and Peyton Manning. These kids are the future of US soccer. They watch you too, Landon, and could be your legacy.
To say that you have a responsibility to these children or to American soccer as a whole would be unfair and naive. You don’t owe anything to anyone. Your career is yours to guide, your life is yours alone, and anyone who tries to label you as the single shining hope for American soccer is shortsighted. In truth, if it’s not you, it will be someone else who eventually brings the United States out of the footballing backwaters and truly puts it in the global scene. On a long enough timeline, it will happen.
What you have at this moment is not a responsibility, but an opportunity. Look at your current situation. Right now, you are the best American player, you are in the prime of your athletic life, and you have tested and proven yourself, albeit for about a month, in the most physically demanding and most watched league in the world. Your professionalism and your performances against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United have ingratiated you to Evertonians, who are presently calling with one voice for you to stay and become a permanent fixture in their club.
This non-American stamp of approval is not lost upon the casual soccer fan at home, nor on the 8-year-old American kid who has never seen one of his countrymen so applauded for excelling at what is still seen in the US as a game played by foreigners. The longer you remain under the bright lights of the international sporting media, the more possible it seems for that kid to make something out of the game he already knows, rather than switch to something else at a predetermined age.
A common practice among US soccer fans is fantasizing about what the National Team could do if the top-tier athletes weren’t all playing other sports. What if an 8-year-old LeBron James had access to as many highlight reels of Maradona and Zidane as he did to those of Michael Jordan? Mere wishful speculation, of course, but imagine the collective soccer potential for all of the grade school American kids who will become tomorrow’s elite athletes. The prospects are frightening. All they need is a reason to care about soccer.
Once you secure an extended stay, your role is simple: just play. You don’t have to announce that you’re ‘doing this for all the kids in the States’ or anything similarly trite. You don’t have to make any statements about the unrecognized quality of the American game. Not much is asked of you, really. The past month has shown that you have the ability to succeed in the Premier League, so now all you need to do is put your head down and play. Your American citizenship will take care of the rest, linking what the kids see on TV with a sense of national identity and an aura of hopeful possibility.
Now is the time to stop being so unfailingly diplomatic about this whole loan extension ordeal. If MLS and Bruce Arena have their way, you’ll be back in LA before the month is out, and the momentum you have built with Everton will be lost. You might try again sometime in the future, but you will be coming back to a team that has progressed without you and may not need you anymore. You have the power right now to alter the course of your career and speed the progress of American soccer.
Announce your firm desire to stay for the rest of the season, and then start working on a long-term transfer to continue after South Africa. Put pressure on MLS to grant you the opportunity to further the greater good. Stay in England, and watch the numbers of young American soccer players grow. Watch more American kids continue to play soccer even when given the chance to switch to something else. Watch the bedrock of homegrown talent upon which the MLS relies get broader and deeper as these kids grow up.
Stay in England, Landon, and give these kids a reason to believe that you are not merely the high water mark for American soccer, but the beginning of a shift in the tide.
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1 Posted 08/03/2010 at 01:50:41
2 Posted 08/03/2010 at 01:47:39
I do believe he’ll be back for the start of the new season though. I think he’ll make that decision (if he hasn’t already) the first day back training with the Galaxy. For the past 9 weeks he’s been playing in a midfield considered by many one of the best, if not the best midfield’s in the Premier League.
Compared this to his team mates at the Galaxy, who would and have struggled to make a name in the Championship (Chris Burchill, Jovan Kirovski, Eddie Lewis to name a few). His first MLS game is against the New England Revolution, no disrespect to them, it's not really the same as playing Man U, Chelsea & Arsenal.
If this doesn’t make him want to come back, a small matter of the World Cup, the pinnacle of the sport, he’ll come up against the same players he did whilst in England. The only problem I see is us coming up with the cash to pay for him.
3 Posted 08/03/2010 at 08:43:57
4 Posted 08/03/2010 at 09:19:45
5 Posted 08/03/2010 at 10:19:18
6 Posted 08/03/2010 at 10:37:35
Surely the best thing for soccer over there, is for the best players to be playing there, this way the kids can go and watch them in the flesh, instead of on the tv.
7 Posted 08/03/2010 at 10:43:37
It’s obvious Donovan wants to stay, but in decrying the possibility of extending the loan, Arena has firmly set himself against the player’s wishes. Granted, I don’t have firsthand knowledge of their professional/personal relationship, but given that Donovan and he entered the National Team scene at roughly the same time and worked together there for quite awhile, undoubtedly forming a bond beyond the usual club manager/player one, it’s reasonable to expect at least a little deference from Arena regarding Donovan’s own evaluation of where his career and life need to go. Silence would have been enough, but Arena chose to announce his objection to the press.
I don’t want to condemn Arena for choosing his camp, but point out that if Landon harbors any guilt about possibly putting Arena in an awkward position by announcing his wishes, he needn’t. Arena has put their friendship aside, so Donovan should as well, making this a purely professional decision.
8 Posted 08/03/2010 at 11:01:47
Donovan has had some great games and some stinkers. He lacks the phsyical attributes to compete with some teams but has pace in abundance.
I think we are getting a little carried away. The reason we are is because he is the first person to play for us for a while with true pace. The fact of the matter is that with Felli and Cahill fit Donovan will rarely gets starts in a Moyes team and would be used as an impact player. Perhaps if he went to Fulham or perhaps a promoted Newcastle he may get more game time.
Donovan has been the perfect stop-gap. He has reminded us that we need true pace in the team but his likey £6-8m price tag is an absolute non-starter for us and at 28 would not be a good investment as pace tends to disappear when you start pushing 30.
So thanks Landon and safe journey back to LA - would love to see you back next January for another like for like loan deal.
9 Posted 08/03/2010 at 11:13:02
10 Posted 08/03/2010 at 09:35:48
Also, Nate has made very good points regarding Landon staying in the EPL. Brian McBride had a solid, respectable career in the EPL, but Landon’s been our Star and basically is the only American soccer player known to the American general public.
That he’s doing well in the toughest league on earth is not lost on us back home here. And that the wonderful Toffee fans have taken him in so quickly and completely hasn’t been lost on us over here either.
Landon is loyal to the Galaxy because he has no reason to not be. He’s an LA kid playing at home on a team with a good (for American soccer) following. But they do not need to keep him to go forward with the Galaxy brand. Philip Anschutz, the owner, brought in Bruce Arena to straighten things out after the Ruud Gullit disaster. Who, in God’s name, said that guy could run a soccer club? My point is that while Arena certainly wants Landon back, he’ll keep the Galaxy going at a high level anyway. That’s what he does. Only disagree with Nat’s reference to Arena as a "decent manager". He’s an excellent one. Certainly if the likes of Gullit can get 2-3 top-fight managing positions before being found out as the stiff he is, Arena rates one try in EPL after a career of repeated success.
Back to Philip Anschutz. He’s one of the best businessmen anywhere, owns lots of things in England and certainly is willing to make some deal that benefits everyone. That’s what he does. I’d bet the "everyone’s keen" remarks of Moyes, were referring to EFC ownership and Anschultz, not just Moyes himself and Landon.
We should keep in mind that this year’s World Cup will be the last for Henry, Van Nistelroy, and other European stars nearing the end but with something still to offer. Arena losing Landon will like result in Anschultz giving him the money to sign a star or two to go with the young talent Arena has already introduced at Galaxy. And how about Toffee teenage stars in the making playing everyday under Arena in LA instead of subbing sometimes at Everton? Why have them playing sometimes as they develop when they could play a full schedule under a top, demanding manager like Arena in front of a terrific fan base, in a beautiful stadium in LA? There’s a lot of ways a deal could be done. And once again, we shouldn’t be too concerned about salary. Even with his new contract, Landon is a bargain at EPL salary rates.
11 Posted 08/03/2010 at 12:02:47
12 Posted 08/03/2010 at 12:35:38
It strikes me that many Evertonians have incredibly short memories. Lescott wants away to ’improve his career’ or ’earn more money’. We hate him for that but it’s OK for Donovan to turn his back on his club, who don’t want to sell him. Double standards if ever I’ve seen them.
If Galaxy want to sell Donovan then fine, if not, Moyes will have to accept that unless he wants to start getting labelled a hypocrite after all the comments about Lescott.
13 Posted 08/03/2010 at 12:48:37
Also, given Landon’s unique position in America as the only nationally known soccer player, I think there are many ways a deal could be struck that isn’t a straight transfer-fee transaction. Anschutz owns a lot of interests in England. Some endorsement relationship between EFC and Galaxy, maybe? What about Rodwell or Gosling going on loan to start and play every game next season under Arena at Galaxy, instead of playing here and there for EFC? When MLS season is over, return to mid-season EFC in shape and with lots more game experience under the belt. That would work and satisfy both sides, don’t you think?
I just believe there are a number of ways to work a deal for Landon, given who he is in American soccer, that takes his situation out of the regular, Big-money team vs. Small-money team transfer-fee type transaction. Most important consideration: Anschulz does not, NOT, need the money. So, let’s see.
14 Posted 08/03/2010 at 15:29:36
15 Posted 08/03/2010 at 16:04:57
In fairness to David, he came to the Galaxy during a down period in the club’s fortunes. Management was a disaster, culminating with the hiring of Ruud Gullit. (Was this booby really given two different chances running an EPL team?) The team was poor on the pitch. They could score some but could stop no one.
He was trying to stay at AC Milan because he knew he’d be given little chance at England’s squad this year while playing at such a sub-standard club as the galaxy were. While he was away, Galaxy hired Bruce Arena, who is 1st-rate in all aspects of team-building. By the time he came back, the ship had been brought to even-keel, but Donovan’s book came out. In it, he didn’t question Beckham wanting to play one place or another. Happens all the time. He questioned David’s commitment the last time he played for Galaxy, which is fair enough. Remember, they just handed David the Captain’s patch when he showed up. Landon wanted him to act like a Captain, which again was fairly said.
So, we had this big hub-bub here in the States when David returned. Whatever happened in private, Landon stood by what he said, welcomed David back, David obviously committed to the team, and saw the changes Arena had wrought. They wound up having an excellent season. So there was more to David’s problems with Galaxy than just I want to play here or there and let’s cut a deal.
As to Landon being the Star attraction. It’s true, he is. Also, very, VERY true is Anschulz not needing the dough. My position is that makes a deal between Galaxy and EFC possible on levels other than the old Big-money/Small-money club deals so prevalent today. Especially with an owner like Anschulz, who literally built MLS. At one point, he owned or had interest in almost every team in MLS!! Now it’s down to Galaxy and, I think, the Houston, Texas franchise. In other words, he cuts the deal he wants to cut and no MLS commissioner or anyone else MLS tells him no. There’s the difference.
Now, if he got Arena to come on-board, he likely conceded the personnel decision-making power we’re used to manager’s having. This is where some creativity can come into play with Landon. For one, where is this $8-10 million cost for Landon, I keep reading here, coming from? By EPL standards, he’s not paid all that much in salary, and again Galaxy aren’t in need of an infusion of EPL cash we’re talking about in exchange fees.
So, how about some players instead; loan in both directions? I mentioned above a Rodwell and/or Gosling loan exchange. He’s basically unknown over there, but Arena is a proven, intelligent, hard-core manager. Either of those young guys would benefit under him and certainly get more playing time than coming off the bench occasionally with EFC while they mature. Why not step the process up by loaning one or both of them in exchange for Landon. They’d be popular, Galaxy does have a hard-core following and high expectations for success. And since MLS season ends around EPL mid-season, they’re back with the club, in-shape and game-experienced. Hey, why not?
16 Posted 08/03/2010 at 16:43:25
Of course Everton no longer need xxxxxx or anybody, but only once you have a better replacement.
Which we don’t, he is the man who’s shirt it is to lose.
Yes there are Lescott echoes but on a slightly different level.
He Donovan has moved here already and, it would seem might like to stay. Lescott hadn’t moved any where and was ’tapped up’.
Would Galaxy and Arena really benefit from a player who comes back somewhat reluctantly and maybe his heart isn’t 100% in it???
17 Posted 08/03/2010 at 17:12:57
What I won’t disagree with is the obvious. The talent level in EPL is much higher and Landon’s finally got to play in the top league. But, I have to repeat, Landon, really does love playing in LA. It’s all win-win for him. So, of course, I also have repeat, he knows he’s going back to an overall inferior level of play in MLS. Let’s see what happens. What do you think of my EFC player loan idea? The roster’s stacked. Guys like Gosling and Rodwell could benefir with regular playing time. And something tells me they’d learn to adjust to living in Los Angeles, CA.
18 Posted 08/03/2010 at 18:27:45
In the USA Baseball and Gridiron have a stranglehold on publicity and sponsorship. The same applies with Aussie Rules and both Rugby codes.
Those excellent sports make for spectacular viewing and at their top level attract a big following. Their biggest drawback is parochialism and national boundaries they are very small potatoes.
In both of those countries the participation rate for Soccer far outstrips those other codes and is growing fast.
Soccer in Australia was known for a long time as a sleeping giant and I guess the same could be said about the game in America.But times they are a changing.
Slowly but surely the advertising dollar is recognising the underlying strength and mass appeal of our game. More and more we see the round ball game used in adverts. No longer do passers by scratch their heads and wonder what is that strange game those kids are playing.
These days there would not be an Ozzie of any age that does not know about Tim Cahill or by connection, Everton.
By staying in England Landon would do far more long term good for the game in his own country
19 Posted 08/03/2010 at 23:04:22
Mr. Callagher, Donovan has won every positional battle versus the left back opponent. Breaking down defensive organization and freeing the strikers. Plus he is not left footed! He has only played 1 month, and I GUARANTEE you given a full year he will score more than Cahill and Felli. No offense to them, but they took much longer to show they can play an EPL game. And why do you think Ancelotti would like Donovan to replace Deco? Perhaps dominating J.Cole? I promise you that you will bight your lip about that comment. Especially if he ends up with Chelsea (though I hope he doesn’t).
Brian- I am from LA. I actually know Bruce, Bob, and many of the teammates and sportscasters because I am in a band that wrote the MLS theme song for FOX. I have been to plenty games. I find any MLS fan who wants to see Donovan stay in America is selfish and ignorant. We will produce more talent, Holden, Edu, Zakuani etc but let Donovan go and compete at the highest level.
The US scares the world because as Nate pointed out, what if LeBron, Kobe, Reggie Bush played soccer their whole lives? This is starting to become more regular and keep and eye on a few 15 year olds we have on Hoffenheim! Indeed our athletes will one day turn to soccer and Donovan and Everton I hope will play a major role in this evolution
20 Posted 09/03/2010 at 01:50:05
Landon did not win his battle with Cole, although he did miss a sitter against Chelsea after Cole went off injured, he did not win his battle against the Sporting defender, who basically stood in front of him and asked "what have you got ? "
Gareth Bale also stood in front of Landon and invited him on, Landon turned away and gave possession away and although he had 5-6 opportunities, didn't attempt to take Bale on, he knew Bale had to much for him, he had been found out and pretty soon every full back in the country will be doing the same to him.
I’m not saying Donovan is finished here, but lets not make him out to be something he’s not, if he is going to make it in the Prem, he has to learn to overcome people like Bale.
AS for the shirt being his to lose, I think you’ll find his manager has already selected somebody in front of him for both the past couple of games, he’s already lost it
Too early to write Landon off, but far to early to make him a superstar. He's been ok and Everton may well take a gamble, but the reported price tag will need to be slashed.
21 Posted 09/03/2010 at 08:37:52
Back to your "Gareth Bale also stood in front of Landon and invited him on"-type comments. Is that really what happened? I saw a defender who was obviously either told by his manager to stay back against Donovan at all times or saw Donovan’s speed and acceleration on tape and decided that on his own. Interesting you saw that as Donovan being afraid.
Let’s try it this way. if Bales "found out" Donovan, why didn’t he run at Donovan and challenge him? Hmmmmm? How come? He found Donovan out didn’t he? Why not just go take the ball from him? I don’t see defenders frozen from worry about having someone run past them as boldly challenging the guy with the ball.
Two other things. First, who said Donovan was Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, or Rooney? Landon’s goal scoring will go up next season once he settles in. Especially as all the goal-scoring pressure on him in MLS and the National team will go away at Everton; there being so much talent on the squad. But he’s never been a goal-scoring machine like those mentioned above. Never. He’s been a very talented player who can and does score. But never on the Ronaldo, Henry, Van Nistleroy level. Why all of a sudden is this being expected of him?
Second, not just with you Dave but in general here, where did this "price tag" business come from? MLS does demand transfer fees in line with international traditions, but they don’t HAVE to do it, given MLS’ unique structure. (I’m still mystified at why Altidore was allowed to go sit on the bench for a lousy, lousy team instead of playing game after game and developing in MLS). And most especially Mr. Anschulz, the Galaxy owner, doesn’t need a transfer fee. Anschulz is literally the Father of American Professional Soccer. In the beginning of MLS he owned something like 80% of all the teams in the league! That’s right, 80%. He backed the entire league for a number of the formative years. Now I think besides Galaxy, he still owns the Houston, Texas franchise. My point is, if he wants to let Donovan go to Everton, he’ll work out a deal that doesn’t necessarily have to cost EFC millions of dollars it cannot afford.
How about this one: Donovan finishes EPL season, than the WC. OK. After the WC, Donovan rests up for return to a full season in EPL. BUT. After the WC, Gosling and Rodwell are loaned to Galaxy for the rest of MLS season. Playing under Arena would be very good for them, Galaxy are a well-organized, well-run organization, and the lads would be getting full-game, regular experience instead of the "here and there" time on the pitch they get now and likely next season at EFC. That would work very well, I think. MLS ends, back to mid-year EPL they go.
22 Posted 09/03/2010 at 16:12:41
23 Posted 09/03/2010 at 14:40:17
I hate to tell you this but Gareth Bale did go past him, several times, I ’m no knocking Landon for this, Bale after one or two difficult seasons is now living up to his early promise, he went past Anichebe and Neville as if they were not there in the first half, but trust me when I tell you he had Landon’s number from the word go too - just as the Sporting full back did
There are several full backs like Bale in the prem who will test Landons nerve, he wont always get to run at ageing full backs like Garry Neville.
Dont shoot the messenger James, I follow this club all over the country and although I dont care as much as you where Donovan comes from, he has a blue shirt on and I desperately want him to do well, but I say it as I see it, if Donovan is to hold down a place in the prem he has got to learn how to cope when fullbacks like Bale turn the tables on him and continue to run past him, he has got to learn how to impose himself so they dont dare leave their posts, he has also got to learn he has less time than he has ever had on the ball, he also has to look up more to see whats around him, you dont really need me to tell you skill alone isnt enough, he’s playing with the big boys now James, that means he’ll be criticised every time his standards fall
24 Posted 09/03/2010 at 15:01:59
I like your posts.Bit long sometimes but hey...
You make reasonable,well thought out points ie your suggestion of some kind of link commercially/player wise between Everton/Galaxy certainly makes sense to me.
However Rodwell is a player who has served his apprenticeship and will ,I feel be a regular first team player next season.
Gosling /Vaughan maybe but not Rodwell.
Finally I like Donovan.I like his attitude,his committment,his diplomacy in a difficult situation and his resolve to do well however things may turn out.He ain’t half bad either.
25 Posted 10/03/2010 at 14:00:15
OK. I don’t doubt Bale is quite wonderful. We’ll just go back and forth on "Yes he did. No he didn’t". Did Bales, who I never saw before, look pretty good? He did. Did he make a good play or two at Donovan’s expense? Maybe. Maybe not? Is Bales, by your words, "after one or two difficult seasons is now living up to his early promise"? I hope so and God bless him. Of course, your saying that neccesitates my mentioning Landon showing up in EPL during the most difficult part of EFC’s schedule, with ZERO preparation, and indisputably contributing to Toffee success. So come on now. Did Donovan think, "Bale had to much for him, he had been found out"? Really? What I will concede is something I’ve noticed since joining Toffee supporters. Every little thing is analyzed and scrutinized until it becomes a big thing like one or two plays resulting in the new guy being "found out". I’ve quickly come to realize comments like yours above are actually in support of the team and player to do the best. In America you find it all the time with fans of American football and baseball.
I also realize his failures (not all his fault) to make a go of it in Bundesliga have created skepticism about his ability and heart. That’s fair enough. What American fans know is Donovan has been the focal point of every team he’s played on for 10 years, including a World Cup team he led to the Final 8 when he was 20 years old. He’s been kicked, elbowed, head-butted, kneed, and had bags of shit and bottles of piss (literally) thrown on him all across the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.
However well he may or may not play in any given game, the idea of Bale or anyone else on a pitch scaring him is nonsensical. Let’s see next season when (I hope) Donovan’s back in EFC blue with the "newness" of it all behind him. Everyone will see he legitimately world-class, not a flash-in-the-pan. It’s fair to say, "Well show it then and I’ll be believe it". He will.
26 Posted 10/03/2010 at 14:32:27
Yeah. Sorry about the length. I just get going sometimes. Is Rodwell ready? Terrific. Following Toffee news, I seem to keep reading of his "developing". No doubt, at his age, this is true. But it seems to me that usually means waiting his turn to play or coming off the bench. If that is so, why not send him out to LA to play full time under Arena. By the time MLS is over, EPL will not yet be at mid-season and he’d have that much more experience under his belt. I’m first to say MLS is not EPL, but Galaxy are the "Glamour" side of MLS and always get every team’s best shot. Plus, Rod would get played-up in the media as a rising EPL star.
Anyway, if he’s ready to start regular for EFC, let’s keep him. Really, it’s just my idea that a deal for Landon can be worked a number of ways that can satisfy financial concerns, and most importantly, Arena’s legit concerns about fielding the best team possible, without being the same old straight transfer fee deal.
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