The Beckham Galaxy/AC Milan situation presents a Rubik's Cube of possibilities. Goal.com's Andrea Canales takes a look at a few of them.
Though some presume that negotiations are continuing between AC Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy and/or Major League Soccer on his release for the Italian club, nothing has emerged of any specific progress on such a deal.
On Tuesday, the date some reports in Italy stated would probably be the announcement of a settlement, due to the understanding that Beckham's lawyers were meeting with Galaxy owners, the organization did release their regular weekly media report.
Included was a line about Beckham.
ON LOAN UPDATES: David Beckham and Landon Donovan remain in Europe on loan with AC Milan and Bayern Munich respectively, with both players scheduled to return on March 8, two weeks ahead of the Galaxy’s season opener against D.C. United.
However, AC Milan have a game on the 8th. The Galaxy media officer confirmed on Wednesday morning that Beckham is allowed to play in that match. He is due, as of now, to return to the Galaxy (or begin preparations to return), after that game.
Yet the Los Angeles Times, in an article written partly by long-time soccer writer Grahame Jones, specifically mentioned that the team "already is resigned to losing him."
That has in fact been the attitude from some players all along.
"We're preparing for [Beckham and Landon Donovan] not to be here, because they're not here right now." said Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein, who has stepped into the right midfield role in Beckham's absence. "You can't put a ghost on the field during training."
The Galaxy have had multiple failing seasons now, and that can breed a cynical view of things. To a certain extent, the players and management alike are acting like a deal for Beckham's departure has happened, simply because it can, not because it has. They'd rather brace for bad news than hope naively for better. None of this means the deal has been done.
AC Milan's vice-president, Adriano Galliani, recently said that he envisions three scenarios for Beckham. One, the Galaxy agree to a sale, and he stays at Milan right now. Two, the Galaxy agree to extend the deal until May, then claim Beckham from AC Milan than. Three, the Galaxy reclaim Beckham on March 8, then lose him to Milan at the end of the year due to Beckham's opt-out clause in his five-year contract.
In Galliani's view, the Galaxy lose Beckham short of the five-year contract he originally signed any which way by the year's end. Yet in LA, not all who have covered the Galaxy agree.
Some feel Beckham will definitely not return from Milan; that the deal is done and is merely waiting to be dusted off and announced. This view is based partly on the idea that Beckham is like Lola in Damn Yankees ("Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets") and that he will buy out his own contract himself if Milan doesn't offer the Galaxy enough.
Others believe it would be humiliating for Beckham to have to pay for his own contract (which would show Milan doesn't want him THAT badly) and that the Galaxy will welcome him back into the fold in March.
In that case, would Milan still be interested by year's end? They may have moved on to a new, different nucleus of younger players by then, such as Yoann Gourcuff.
Also, for all the talk of Beckham's opt-out clause, nowhere has it been reported that it is a free one. In other words, Beckham's contract is not actually ending at that time. He did sign for a full five years. The opt-out clause may perhaps be only exercised at a cost which saves the Galaxy a considerable amount of money off the full contract.
In other words, if Beckham opts out at the end of the year, to be "free", he may be turning his back on the remaining salary in his contract, which could be far more than another team may pay him at that point.
Beckham has said that money isn't what matters to him now. If so, and if no other deal is in fact worked out for him to remain at AC Milan now, then he could have a chance to prove his indifference to wealth at the end of the season, by exercising that clause option.
The Galaxy have weathered the storm of derision generated from Beckham expressing his desire to leave. In fact, the team has garnered some praise for not allowing itself to be bullied by either Milan or Beckham. They may stick to their guns, especially if neither Milan or Beckham is willing to offer what the LA club feels is appropriate monetary compensation.
Anything can happen in a season. The Galaxy could improve drastically and win the league. Beckham may find himself entirely out of England's lineup. Or he could find himself safely in, despite playing in MLS. Milan could lose interest entirely.
That could lead to a scenario Galliani never envisioned, that Beckham returns to the Galaxy and serves out his full contract. The odds on this may be very small, but the possibility remains.
Andrea Canales is Chief Editor of Goal.com USA
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