By Andrea Canales
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
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
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
Check out the GoalUSA blog for more on the Galaxy.