By Andrea Canales
If the latest reports of a Galaxy/AC Milan time-share agreement are true, David Beckham's lawyers and AEG's Tim Leiweke are an ingenious bunch.
They've managed to conjure up a deal in which nobody wins and everybody
They were given a chance to play Solomon and make a wise choice.
Instead of deciding where the true heart lay in the situation, they've
chosen to instead cut the baby, er, Beckham, in two.
Of course, Beckham is no helpless child in this context. It was he who
created the whole situation in the first place. He agreed to sign with
Major League Soccer and the Los Angeles Galaxy for five years. When
that didn't go to his liking, it was he who engineered a loan deal to
AC Milan. Like Goldilocks finding what porridge best suited her,
regardless of the ownership involved, Beckham then decided he wanted to
stay at the Italian club.
The issue that remained on the table, though, was money. Vast sums of
it had been paid to Beckham and the Galaxy wanted compensation. AC
Milan offered a rather paltry 3 million. Beckham has apparently been
willing to supplement that offer with enough money out of his own pocket to allow the Galaxy to
relax their hold on him.
Yet it appears that either Beckham or AC Milan stopped short of
offering the Galaxy the amount required to obtain his complete release.
In other words, a player on the downslope of his career has committed
to a double stint of playing in two leagues during a single year. The
last time Beckham attempted this, when he moved from Real Madrid to the
Galaxy in 2007, it was a disaster. The midfielder carried injuries into
his league debut, and they quickly worsened, leaving him hobbling,
sidelined or ineffective in almost every match.
Beckham clearly is the first loser in this scenario. It's painfully
obvious that aside from the physical toll that will be demanded of him,
that his pride and image also takes a hit in this deal. The simple fact
is that AC Milan wasn't willing to cough up even the amount that Jozy
Altidore earned for the league on his transfer. Beckham is, according
to the Los Angeles Times, paying the Galaxy more than AC Milan is in
order to make the deal happen.
All this is done, of course, to ensure that Beckham remains on the
English national team. His fervent desire is to make the World Cup in
2010. Apparently all will be worth it if that happens. However, the
physical risk of injury through exhaustion is great. A tired Beckham is
also less effective, as recent AC Milan matches have shown. Beckham
could in fact be sabotaging his chances with England, instead of
AC Milan are quite plainly also losers here. Fans have complained for
some time that the aging squad badly needs an injection of youth.
Beckham provided a spark when he first appeared, but that has faded,
along with the team's title hopes and UEFA Cup chances. Yet now the
team has committed themselves to bringing Beckham in 2010, although he
will miss the first part of the season with the squad and may disrupt
club chemistry. Ancelotti, the current coach, may not even last long
enough to welcome Beckham back. A new coach will have not a choice in the
The biggest losers, though, are quite obviously the Galaxy. The
twice-league champions, desperate to simply return to the playoffs
these days, are now picking up the crumbs in this arrangement, having
agreed to let their marquee player miss over half the season. So what
if Beckham's salary won't count against the cap while he is gone - what
equivalent player is going to agree to come in and play for just the
first half of the season? Who are the Galaxy going to axe to make room
for Beckham when he returns?
Is coach Bruce Arena going to perform an elaborate juggling act, where striker Landon
Donovan, also on loan in Europe, returns for the first half of the MLS season, but is moved out
in the summer transfer window and then that spot goes to Beckham? On
paper, that might seem like a neat trick, but the players are in no
way interchangeable on the field. The team chemistry badly needed for
the squad to succeed will likely be in complete shambles under any such
"It's never good when you have
key players that aren't available for training, whether it's, again,
injuries or suspensions or they're not with you for whatever reason,"
said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena in an exclusive interview with Goal.com on Monday. "It
has not been a perfect situation in terms of trying to prepare a team
for regular season."
It's probably going to be an even worse situation for the Galaxy,
playing a regular season without at least one key player for much of
it. Especially when it's a player who clearly wants to be elsewhere.
What made Solomon's original decision such a wise one was that he
cleverly revealed the loyalties involved in the case. The problem in
this situation is that Beckham, unlike the inarticulate baby, has made
his preference for AC Milan very clear. The Galaxy may extract their
pound of Beckham's flesh through this agreement that he honor at least a
small part of the contract that he signed, but his heart is in Italy,
not the U.S. No matter how professionally Beckham tries to behave now, his performance in MLS play is
likely to reflect that feeling.
Andrea Canales is Chief Editor of Goal.com USA