Back in November, Emiliano Insua learned that the LA Galaxy were interested in him. The left back was already intrigued by MLS, and the Galaxy looked like a suitable next stop after VfB Stuttgart, a German club that’s back in the 2. Bundesliga.
Then, Galaxy head coach and fellow Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto gave him a call that more or less sealed the deal.
“I didn’t have any relationship with him before, but of course I knew him as a player and a coach before,” Insua, 31, told MLSsoccer.com Thursday. “A great coach with Lanus and Boca Juniors. He called me before I came here, he was one of the biggest parts in me coming. He told me about the squad, he told me the support he has in me. I found in him a very good coach and a very good person.”
The circumstances were also in LA’s favor. With Insua in the last year of his contract and not frequently used by the second-division side, Stuttgart let him go for free, partially to get his wages off their books.
“We’re in the second division there, so I had a big contract for the club,” Insua said. “When the interest came, at the beginning they said, ‘You can go, but we’re not going to pay you anything.’ … I left some money behind, but it’s nice.”
The beginning of Insua’s career almost overlapped with the end of Schelotto’s. The highly-touted fullback prospect rose through the ranks at Boca and got closer to the first team, all while Schelotto approached the end of his career there. But 2007 saw both leave the club before they could link up.
Schelotto moved to Columbus Crew SC and MLS, where he spent four seasons before returning to Gimnasia La Plata in 2011. Insua was transferred to English giants Liverpool upon his 18th birthday, recruited after stellar performances with Argentina’s U-17 national team.
“It was crazy, I didn’t even play any games for Boca Juniors before,” Insua recalled. “The interest arrived when I was 17. It was a surprise, but from the first day, I said yes. I didn’t think about it. Everything was going normal when I got to Liverpool because I started to play and was part of the first team. I didn’t have too much time to think. It was like a dream.”
Insua was brought along slowly into the first team at Liverpool, when they went to two Champions League finals in three seasons. He began playing more regularly and became the team’s first-choice left back in 2009-10. Then the club changed managers, and in came Roy Hodgson for an ill-fated six-month spell in charge of Liverpool.
That offseason, Hodgson essentially told Insua that he was surplus to requirements.
“Maybe that was a mistake for me to leave,” Insua said. “I was very young. Roy Hodgson in that moment told me that I will not play regularly, so I left the club. If this situation would come again for me, I would stay and fight for my place. I was in a great situation with Liverpool.”
Liverpool bought left back Paul Konchesky to replace him while Insua went on loan to Galatasaray, a season he’d call the worst of his career. Hodgson was fired by January, and Konchesky didn’t play again for Liverpool.
“Yeah, yeah, Konchesky,” Insua said, “I remember. After six months I was like, ‘Why? Why did I have to leave?’
“You never know, of course it’d be different,” he added of possibly staying. “Sometimes in football one decision can change a lot in your career. You never know what would happen if I stayed at Liverpool.”
That’s as far as Insua would go down that road of hypotheticals. Now, he’s ecstatic to be with the Galaxy, playing every minute of their first two matches.
“The stadium, the facilities, the medical staff and everyone around the team is perfect,” Insua said. “It’s the same level situation as Europe. I was surprised by that. The league is getting better and bigger.”