Is Milan, then Montreal, in Beckham's Future?
The Galaxy is looking toward the Major League Soccer playoffs — admittedly a rare occurrence in recent years — and David Beckham is looking toward Europe.
As always, the English midfielder and his representatives have been playing both sides against the middle.
Beckham has repeatedly stated that he intends to play in Europe again once the MLS season ends in November so that he can hang onto his place on the England national team and thereby take part in a fourth World Cup in South Africa next year.
The question has been, where will he play?
Beckham has said he would like to return to AC Milan, where he spent six months on loan from the Galaxy last season. The Italian team wants him back, he said.
Later he said there were “three or four” other offers, without naming names but hinting that some English Premier League clubs were interested. English tabloids then speculated that London clubs Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur might be possibilities.
In other words, the Beckham camp’s unvoiced tactic — let the media do the work — was to nudge AC Milan toward a deal by raising the prospect of Beckham returning to England.
On Wednesday, the same day that England clinched its place in the World Cup by routing Croatia — Beckham played all of 10 minutes — AC Milan director Umberto Gandini told Bloomberg.com in Geneva, Switzerland, that he was confident of bringing Beckham back to Milan.
"We’ve done this before, don’t forget," Gandini said. "We have good relations with David, his representatives and also Major League Soccer.
“We are discussing the possibility of the agreement, and we are aware of what David is saying. We think we are going towards a deal.”
Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan’s owner and also the Italian prime minister, has trimmed costs this season, despite selling Brazilian playmaker Kaka to Real Madrid for a whopping $94-million, but he might be willing to open his wallet a little for Beckham.
“He’s an icon, a brand,” Gandini said. “He’s a lot of things for many people. For us he’s an excellent player and we want him back.”
It might also be that Beckham, who turns 35 in May, will again fork out some of the money himself, paying for his own loan as he did last spring in order to extend his stay with AC Milan until the end of the Italian season.
That caused him to miss the first half of the Galaxy’s season, and the probability is that the same scenario will unfold next spring.
“I want to give myself every opportunity to be involved in the [England World Cup] squad,” Beckham said in London earlier this week. “I think I’ll be back [with the Galaxy] after the World Cup. There is a possibility that the contract might break in the autumn, but I’m committed there.”
Beckham’s brief appearance at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday earned him his 114th cap, 11 shy of the all-time record for appearances for the England national team. It was greeted with some derision, though, as indicated in the Guardian’s minute-by-minute online report of the match.
“80 mins: Here we go: [Aaron] Lennon is withdrawn so that Beckham can ‘earn’ his 876th cap. The Wembley crowd’s reaction is one of total rapture — Becks is still clearly loved by lots. Or maybe Lennon is hated for some reason?”
Sky Sports Italia reported Thursday that a deal had been reached between AEG, which owns the Galaxy, and AC Milan, but the report cited no sources.
Meanwhile, other rumors, some laughable, others potentially serious, continue to swirl around Beckham.
He was, for instance, reported to be interested in rejoining former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson at Notts County in England’s League Two, essentially the fourth division. That one was quickly scotched.
This week, the Times of London reported that Beckham was the unidentified investor who would be putting millions of dollars into the Montreal Impact in order to boost the club’s bid to join MLS in 2012.
“I have the right to own an MLS franchise, which I will action immediately after I have stopped playing,” the newspaper quoted Beckham as saying.
By 2012, Beckham should have stopped playing — in Los Angeles and in Milan — so dismissing the Canadian rumor as fantasy is not all that easy.
— Grahame L. Jones
Photo: David Beckham, waiting next to Coach Fabio Capello, prepares to enter England's World Cup qualifier against Croatia on Wednesday as a substitute. Credit: Tim Hales / Associated Press