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David Beckham

Beckham Done – Raul or Ronaldinho on the Way In for the Galaxy?

With his announcement this week that David Beckham will not recover from his ruptured Achilles heel in time to play for the Galaxy this season, both Beckham and the Galaxy find themselves at a crossroads. For Beckham, it is a series of dour options, but for the Galaxy, the opportunities are decidedly more intriguing.

With no MLS possibilities left in 2010, the soonest Beckham will be able to get back onto a soccer pitch is January 2011. At that point, what are the alternatives? He has stated that he wants to resume his loan to stint at AC Milan, but that seems very dubious. Even before his injury, Beckham had lost his role as the first choice right winger for Milan, and after not playing for almost a year and recovering from a severe injury, will a 36 year old Beckham see much playing time at all?

For that matter, would any team fighting for glory want to give Beckham an important role on the pitch? In the past, there have occasionally been rumors of a team like Tottenham wanting to take Beckham on loan, but the 2011 version of Beckham would have real trouble getting much playing time with Spurs. The farther down you go on the table, the less true this becomes, but does Beckham really want to suit up for Bolton or Stoke? I doubt it. Barring a surprise development, Beckham is looking at the possibility of another season with the Galaxy and a series of Manchester United and England tribute games before he hangs up his boots for good.

On the other hand, the Galaxy seem to be looking at all sorts of interesting options. The Galaxy seem likely to petition the MLS to allow them to get another DP allocation to fill Beckham’s slot. To get this, they may have to promise to have only two DP players in 2011, but with Landon Donovan likely to go to Europe before the next season, this may already be in the works. If the Galaxy do free up that DP position, two real possibilities are Real Madrid’s Raul or AC Milan’s Ronaldinho.

Raul is one of the great players in the history of both Real Madrid and Spain, but is the first choice for neither team now. The all-time goal scorer for Real Madrid, he has also scored more Champions League goals than any other player. Having never gotten a red card in his career, Raul is seen as the ideal professional. However, at 32 years old, his best days as a Madrid player are behind him. Having played for Madrid for 17 years, most of them as captain, it is unthinkable for him to go to another Spanish team, and playing in the US has always intrigued him.

Moreover, Raul has the reputation as a thoughtful, intellectual family man. After living under a microscope and having his every move tracked by the Spanish media over the past 17 years, the US offers football players something very rare – acclaim on the field and anonymity off of it. The idea of going to restaurant with his wife and five children and enjoying a meal undisturbed is probably very attractive to Raul, and the idea of welcoming such a historic player – one who is far more acclaimed as a player than Beckham – is probably very attractive to the Galaxy.

In some ways, Ronaldinho is the polar opposite. Compared to the quiet Raul, Ronaldinho is one of the most recognized, flamboyant faces of soccer. Other than Beckham himself, nobody in soccer has the brand recognition of the smiling, dazzling Brazilian. However, after a brilliant run at Barcelona during which he collected two World Player of the Year awards, his transfer to AC Milan before the beginning of last season has precipitated a drop in form. He is not a guaranteed starter for Milan as rumors about a poor work ethic (i.e., too much time at the dining table has led to too much time on the training table) have swirled. Moreover, Ronaldinho is at risk for being left off the Brazilian team that travels to South Africa this summer.

With AC Milan battling financial difficulties, Roma and Inter a good deal ahead of them on the table, and coach Leonardo heading out the door, the Rossoneri could be looking at off-loading their most recognizable face. A fresh start with the Galaxy could be in order for Ronaldinho, and with three Brazilians already on the team, he could feel at home at the Home Depot Center.

While Raul would be able to move on a free transfer, Ronaldinho could command a transfer fee from the Galaxy. However, while Robert Pires and Thierry Henry would be welcome additions to MLS, there is no foreign footballer who can fill a stadium like Ronaldinho. The economics of his move may make sense to MLS as a way to keep the post-World Cup momentum going in the US.

Either way, Beckham’s injury has opened up some interesting possibilities for the Galaxy – possibilities that can add excitement for the entire league.

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  1. Rick

    November 7, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I think Ronaldinho coming for sure this time..I think he would be a
    great addition for the galaxy.:)

  2. cheetah

    June 9, 2010 at 1:17 am

    the latest thing i read was that Ronaldinho is confirmed coming to LA. saw the story in

  3. CA

    April 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    “idk wuts”

    ?????? Is that English?

  4. Alex

    April 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    idk wuts mls obsession of bringing old, has beens to the league. raul is spent and nobody cares about ronaldinho anymore, plus he still has some juice left until europe is done with him, then we can get the scraps.

    bring in some young talent like americans or some young guys. use that dp money to buy a good player that can help a team win, not a human advertisement for the league to sell jerseys and publicity

  5. Bolacuadrada

    April 30, 2010 at 2:47 am

    I do not think Ronaldinho is coming yet. Why not Deco, McKay, Rivaldo, Ze Reberto, Palermo?

  6. RBNY

    April 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Not so fast LA…Did you forget about us? Raul/Ronaldinho (not to mention Henry) have all been linked to New York as well.

    • River Side Soccer Club

      April 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      *correcton, new jersey

  7. Rabble Rouser

    April 29, 2010 at 10:26 am

    It’s funny how you say these two players are “real possibilities” then back that up with absolutely no proof that they are possibilities at all except your opinion. No shred of detail to indicate they even want to come here, much less the Galaxy wants them and have made them a target.

    That’s the kind of “expert analysis” you get from a “leading” Web site these days, I guess.

  8. Njndirish

    April 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    If Ronaldinho (Who I’m pretty sure play for Milan, not Inter) makes the Brazil WC squad, then he will stay in Europe. If not (which is likely) he will find a place to play and be adored like he once was.

  9. RioSoccer

    April 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Heck, if Freddie doesn’t do well in Greece, he won’t be a DP. But it is great to see MLS try to bring some big names. You would think there’s some South American too. What about Roberto Carlos?

  10. CA

    April 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I agree it’s unlikely that Ronaldinho will be in the league this year-if ever. I see him going the Ronaldo route and going back to Brazil to finish out his career. I dont think he speaks English and I’ve never heard him express interest in MLS or the US in general. Do you honestly see the Great Ronaldinho coming to America to play on carpet? I dont. Although it would be great to see him square off against the Sounders here in Seattle:)

  11. JM

    April 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Ronaldinho has too many other options within Europe. He’s not coming for at least one more contract (say summer of 2013, 2014 or 2015 at earliest).

    I really think Raul is going to be a Galaxy player. I know the speculation surrounds RBNY, but they aren’t going to sign three strikers to DP contracts (Angel, Henry), especially when both Angel and Raul are really center forwards.

    The Galaxy could sign Raul with the cap space created by putting Beckham on the disabled list in 2010. Then in the winter, they could cut two of their high priced (by MLS standards) back-ups (Kovalenko, Klein prime targets) and create the requisite $335k in cap space to have 3 DPs.

    If Landon were then sold, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Galaxy go after a midfielder — hell, maybe even someone like Freddy Adu, who would be a cheap DP signing, and provide the Galaxy with another high profile American.

  12. Charles

    April 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I think that for the DP spots the MLS teams should be looking to get young Americans.
    The typical aging superstar has no where near the name that Beckham has. So you are left with Ljungberg types, who may or may not play that great for your team and may or may not sell a lot of jerseys for you.

    When the Sounders get Altidore on loan and he scores the winning goal against England ( my current dream )…THEN you see a World Cup bump…anything else ?
    Maybe Henry, but probably not much.

    • Eric Altshule

      April 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      There is nothing more sure than death, taxes, and Charles stating that American players should stay in MLS.

      Honestly, who is the young American star who would put butts in the seats to justify a DP salary? Altidore? Michael Bradley? Stuart Holden? Freddy Adu? They all started in MLS and were popular among aficionados but (with the exception of the over-marketed and over-hyped Adu) failed to generate any break-out notice in the general public. In a Los Angeles sports scene that is largely bereft of the personalities that generated tremendous buzz 20 years ago (Magic, Kareem, Gretzky, Valenzuela), Landon Donovan still gets almost no press attention, and he is the best American there is. These European stars may not turn Charles’ head, but Real Madrid is the most popular Spanish-speaking team in the world, and having Raul on the Galaxy would generate a lot of buzz.

      • Charles

        April 29, 2010 at 11:27 am

        Thanks for the compliment, consistancy like death and taxes.

        But, I actually used to think wow what an opportunity to get these superstars. The leagues in Europe are set up to be such a joke, that no one like Henry is going to move from a top team to a middle of the road ( read no way in hell we win anything ) team.

        Maybe it is a great opportunity. But how many tickets/jerseys do you really think those guys sell ? Ljungberg, really very spotty performance on the field, is paid $1.3 million. The Sounders probably make that off of him, with high price tickets and a large source of jersey buyers, not many cities can.

        I would be shocked if Landon isn’t selling a LOT of jerseys, don’t tell me Mc Bride isn’t hugly popular, there are still a ton of people that want him to play in 2010. Altidore, Davies, Holden ( who isn’t just in Europe for the money imo ) are all great examples of who should be playing here.

        ps. Beckham played last year and LA versus LA IN THE PLAYOFFS still sells 20k ?!!?!?

  13. Rex

    April 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    If AEG is willing to pay the money for Raul, why not send him to Houston instead? Dynamo fans can dream right?

  14. Josh/hw

    April 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Any of these options would be lovely for the league

  15. afrim

    April 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    you do realize that any MLS team can buy a 3rd dp for 250,000. So technically LA doesnt have to petition the league to free up another DP slot. They can just buy a 3rd and keep Donovan and Beckham on the books as their other 2.

    • Rex

      April 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      True afrim,
      But i am sure a petition would be worth the $250k which gets distributed to your competitors.

      • Lars Lowther

        April 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm

        If LA gets around the new Designated Player rules, then it sort of makes you wonder if MLS rules are worth anything at all.

        They’ll be forced to buy the slot if they want a third DP.

  16. bigvic

    April 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Beckham is popular at Milan, maybe LA can trade him for Ronaldinho.
    Milan would take him for marketing purposes, realizing he had probably outlasted his welcome in LA.
    Perhaps the transfer wouldnt be as high then. Also, maybe LA can take Gooch off their hands too. I dont know what Milan pay him, but no more then a mil plus change seems about right.

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