Canales Daily: Divided David Beckham Deal Detrimental

David Beckham is letting both AC Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy have a piece of him, but that's not going to bring peace of mind to anyone involved in the deal.
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 loses.

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 helping them.

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 matter.

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 arrangement.

"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 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 USA