Friday, 9 January 2009

Beckham: rumours of a move to Milan are about more than England

This comes from Jonny's I Told You So file! I wrote this on the 17th October 2008, and hinted that Becks' move to Europe was about an escape route from MLS, not keeping fit during the America's off-season, as was reported at the time. This is my piece (unedited) from October:
The growing battle for David Beckham's signature in the January transfer window has more at stake than just the England midfielder's fitness.

Becks needs a return to Europe to compete for his England place. The tabloids ask "how can he truly remain competitive and matchfit playing in LA?" Milan remain in the boxseat to capture him on a three-month loan deal.

It's just that his loan switch will be about more than a new lease of Life with the Lions.
It's also about Major League Soccer's fight for survival and its future in a competitive market through an economic downturn.
While Becks rises like a Phoenix from the ashes, Major League Soccer is foundering. It's losing its vision.
Having managed Beckham's LA Galaxy, Ruud Gullit's comments about MLS crystallise the reasons why the former England skipper needs to come home.
Gullit, who lasted nine months in LA suggested there's a conspiracy among other American sports to keep soccer down, and that no amount of David Beckhams can turn it into a major sport in the U.S.
"I think they are afraid of football because it is so popular everywhere around the world," Gullit told Reuters. "I think they will just control it so it doesn't become more popular than their American sports."
Gullit said that as a result, Beckham is fighting an uphill battle to sell soccer to U.S. fans.
"So it is very hard for him," Gullit said. "They will never allow that, and in some ways I can understand it as well.
"I have my doubts if they really want to make it popular. Some sports have already had a bit of a dive, so they don't want American football to become less popular, or basketball or baseball."
The truth is Beckham thought the door was closed on big time football long before it was. Losing his place in Capello's Real Madrid team co-incided with McClaren's insistence that he wasn't part of England's plans.
We all know what happened next: a recalled Becks-inspired Real won the Primera Liga and McClaren fell to the overwhelming clamour to bring Becks back. The fly in the ointment was he'd already signed for Hollywood.
Beckham is one of the fittest players of the modern era. The end of his career is not in sight, and his value to any team is obvious; he's good support for a creative partner in midfield and he remains the setpiece meister!
You could see why Manchester City were the early favourites. Abu Dhabi Babby wants to mark his arrival with a big New Year Splurge, and he's one of only a few people who could afford Beckham's wages.
But as Thierry Henry articulated in his time at Arsenal, a modern team wins titles with the strength of its subs bench.
Could there be a better sub to lift the crowd and trigger an equaliser from a set-piece?
So no surprise that big name suitors like Milan are chasing his signature (or with Beckham, his autograph).
Will one of the big boys back home tempt him home?
With Beckham, impossible is nothing.


  1. Interesting blog. The Beckham experiment in the US has many parallels with their import of another superstar in the 1970's, Pele. Pele was also past his heyday when he played "soccer" in the US. He also attracted huge crowds and enormous media attention but never succeeded in turning "soccer" into a mainstream sport in America. Maybe Becks will have greater success over the pond than his illustrious Brazilian predecessor but I doubt it somehow.


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