Beckham Divorce with MLS Mutual, Inevitable, Deserved


David Beckham wants to leave the Los Angeles Galaxy and stay in Italy, and so does the MLS—but they won’t admit it.

The current transfer saga itself, as AC Milan negotiate making Beckham’s loan move permanent, is the type of high-profile exposure the American league pines for.

While garnering both attention and capital—concepts agreeable to American sport and business—over Beckham’s tenure, the Galaxy never competed on the field with the English soccer magnate at the club.

And now the former Spanish and English top flight champion Beckham and AC Milan have made their mutual desires unequivocal.

Meanwhile, the MLS enjoys, if not uncomfortably, the leverage they currently wield at the bargaining table and a deal benefiting all parties involved looks quite certain, but not imminent, as the Galaxy extract what remains of their share in the Beckham stakes.

It’s Over in America

Though Beckham appeared in his element, perhaps, in Hollywood, on pitches across America he was certainly out of it. The Galaxy simply needed him to do too much there.

Without dribblers and tidy passers around him, Beckham looked ordinary. He is a player who thrives in association with his more skillful teammates, and his quality is only manifested when there is quality around to support it.

He won’t run past players and he has never taken over games. His influence is in the final supply of a flowing side, adding a wide element to provide for clinical, penalty-box strikers, punctuated by occasional dead-ball breakthroughs.

But, he leads more by stature and reputation than actual presence. He was never going to inspire the Galaxy or their fans, lifting them upon his shoulders during a romantic championship run. Certainly not with a below-average MLS side.

Off the field, in Los Angeles, the jerseys were sold. The casual fans allegedly watched and listened, and the American game grew necessarily, financially and respectably.

Definitely, the soccer structures in Los Angeles and in the MLS felt the boom. How long the effect resonates, and whether they might outlast it through a strife economy—so often the scourge of American leagues past—is yet to unfold.

As now the pop in popular culture Becks brought stateside, like novelty itself, fades. The hot air keeping the Beckham brand aflight gasses and dissipates, and each year is exponentially less profitable, less exploitable.

Money makes the gears turn slowly

So why don’t the MLS and the Galaxy sell short on Beckham, their powerful commodity? They most certainly will.

All three are frothing to make the deal permanent, each hopeful to avoid a repeat role in the hackneyed tale of European stars coming to an ultimately defunct American league to wind down their careers in one last marketing bravado.

But, the Americans, as ever, are trying to get top dollar.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber oddly issued a deadline last week for any changes in the current loan deal with Milan in March. Perhaps he was impersonating Gareth Keenan, but no one really listened as the deadline passed, and the commissioner blinked and walked silently backwards away.

The ostentatious posturing showed the gulf in class between the two organizations. AC Milan, the historic European giant, and the MLS, overplaying a big hand with a bad poker face.

Bruce Arena admitted Monday during a press conference: “”Legally or technically, I think March 8 would be the final date of altering the loan agreement. The deadline imposed by Commissioner Garber, you would have to speak to [him] about that.”

The Galaxy, who announced last year already recouping and profiting from their Beckham investment, have the new stadium, increased revenues, and season ticket sales.

And with a transfer sum probably around $20 million—market value for an average top-level player slash media icon and world superstar—they’ll have the money to both line their pockets and finally build a squad with substance.

Star dims in Europe and bursts in South Africa

As for Milan, they wouldn’t have expected their initial $12 million offer to be accepted. Of course the first offer in any deal between major clubs is to be rejected, and later countered with a price tag in the media, to which another offer would likely be rejected, until the deadline—with Kaka’s exceptional saga being an outlier.

The Rossoneri will be a better—and even more popular—team with Beckham. He’s already played better in a month at the San Siro than he did during any month at the Home Depot Center.

He offers a different option than another veteran, Gennaro Gattuso; they might split time. The competition is good for all, and at 32, Beckham would be suited to be rested occasionally or come off the bench.

Milan is a welcoming home for storied players, of whom they boast quite a collection: Maldini, Seedorf, Ronaldinho, Zambrotta, Kaka, and now Beckham. Berlusconi certainly knows how to market their assets.

As for the Englishman, his motivations have always been clear. Like his continued love for Manchester United, shy Beckham has never been reticent about his burning need to play for England.

He was put to the brink by his former national coach after the 2006 World Cup, but Fabio Capello likes seeing Becks punting in crosses at the club the Italian coach won five Scudetti with.

If the most-capped Englishman stays healthy and plays often and well enough, he seems odds-on to get a final chance at glory and make the squad for the 2010 World Cup.

There lies the final possible catalyst in what has always been his personal crusade to fully and finally restore his pride after his personal hell in the 1998 World Cup.

The simple man who, so unwittingly, shouldered the game across continents, is at least deserving of the chance to extinguish his career in a last, personal blaze of glory and redemption.

You might even say the fans of the game deserve it too: witnessing the midfielder, commodity, and tentative icon returned to his element on pitches across Europe and South Africa as the blinding spotlight on his career finally and mercifully dims and extinguishes.

15 thoughts on “Beckham Divorce with MLS Mutual, Inevitable, Deserved”

  1. Beckham not at Premiership club.
    Beckham not joining a Premiership club.
    Hasn’t played Premiership football since 2003.
    Doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself.
    Manchester United have become a better side without him.
    Real Madrid are a better side without him.
    Joined a club who will never win the Champions League, in a league that is past it.

    Why is this here again?

  2. One can’t help but wonder if the recent resurrgance of Giggsy helped push Becks into wanting a return to glory. I mean his move to Galaxy was fueled by him losing the his captaincy/place in the England squad and him thinking his top flight footballing days were over (plus the money from LAG was great too). But looking at Giggs, how he is flourishing at his age and still bagging trophies and accolades must have made him want to make his move at milan permanent.

    People might think Becks is all about the image and money…well he might indeed be but not to the extent that people think. He still wants to win, he still wants to play beautiful football and he still want to be remembered as a great footballer…something Giggs is achieving right now and Becks wants to have that too.

  3. I’m not sure how it works…but I don’t think LAG will get the $20 million from the sale. MLS owns the players contracts, and I think that the whole league splits these? I’m not sure though. I don’t follow MLS.

  4. Beckham himself is not about image and money; it’s the people around him cohorting to use him. He has always been quite simple, but follows the bright money where it leads him.

    I am certain Giggs and Beckham still stay in touch, and Giggs’ perceived resurgence is probably a factor, nice insight!

    I believe the MLS and the Galaxy, along with David’s “sponsors”, AEG, all benefit in part with the deal; the Galaxy won’t get the whole transfer sum, it just sounded better to leave that ambiguous in the article, for effect, you see. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I hate to agree with Fred, but how did this Beckham nonsense surface at EPL Talk? There are associate websites called Serie A Talk and MLS Talk, you know.

  6. This is an England blog. You get stories about the FA Cup, and that has nothing to do with the actual EPL, just teams who are in the Premier League.

    There’s also talk about the England National team.

    Lighten up…is it really killing you that there is additional content on the blog?

  7. i mean with joe cole being beat up at her house does that mean someone should write about her. as much as id like that, it just doesnt fit into this blog. stories about the la galaxy do not fit on this blog.

  8. Given the fact that there is no deal yet, why is this even posted. I don’t believe anything that ACM says. Until there is an official announcement, DB is coming back to MLS. On with your regularly scheduled programming.

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