Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bonjour Beckham: Paris likely next stop for ex-England captain

Ken Lawrence

David Beckham broke out the Buds and celebrated with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan having pulled off the perfect Hollywood ending.

Beckham (36) and the Republic of Ireland captain combined to provide LA Galaxy captain Donovan with the winner in the 1-0 Major League Soccer Cup final at the rain-drenched Home Depot Centre for the first, and perhaps the last piece of silverware claimed by him during his five-year American dream.

Beckham then enjoyed a locker-room beer with the lads even if champagne was poured into the trophy but remained firmly non-committal about his future, saying: "I may have been speaking about Galaxy in the past tense but that doesn't mean I won't be back.

"There are a lot of options, but at the moment I am still a Galaxy player and whether I stay or go I have had an amazing five years here."

Given the fact he has suffered with a bad back for years and, as he revealed after the victory, that he had played with a slight tear in his hamstring, his balancing act on the fence was all the more impressive.

The fact is, however, he has not made up his mind about what to do next now that he has reached the competitive end of his $125m deal with Galaxy and Major League Soccer and he has not done so because he is still awaiting the final script for Brand Beckham: The Sequel.

Galaxy want him to stay for at least another year, Paris Saint-Germain want him to join them in Ligue One and a collection of Arab, Asian and Brazilian clubs have also been making their pitch. The battle for his services, however, will almost certainly be decided by TV money.

Galaxy have just signed a five-year $55m contract with two new Time Warner regional sports networks, one in Spanish, one in English, to televise their games live.

PSG are prepared to pay Beckham a small fortune to help them gain a global audience and are rated fabourites to land him. The French club's president is Nasser Al-Khelafi, who fronted the June takeover of Qatar Sports Investments and who now own 70pc of it. He also happens to be president of Al Jazeera Sports as well as QSI itself.

demand

He is working on selling off PSG's foreign TV rights -- through Al Jazeera, naturally -- and Beckham's involvement would allow him to demand a far higher figure, with the suggestion that the Englishman would not only get a $7m salary out of it but also get a cut of the profits.

Beckham is due to travel with his club on a tour of Indonesia, the Phillipines and Australia starting next week and ending on December 6 before he and his family return to their Hertfordshire home for Christmas.

During that time Tim Lieweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group which owns Galaxy and also beaten finalists Houston, will sit down with Beckham to talk turkey but he has already made clear how important the veteran performer remains.

He said: "We don't talk about this deal (the contract with Time Warner) without David Beckham. We wouldn't have gotten the Herbalife deal (five years, $25m in 2007) without David Beckham.

"We certainly are not touring Indonesia, Asia and Australia without David Beckham, and we're not getting the kind of guarantees we're getting without David Beckham."

It is the kind of statement that if likely to make Al-Khelafi further up the ante, but Beckham continues to give nothing away as he adds: "The fans have been great, the LA experience brilliant and my family are happy here. I'm going to take a break and think about things now and then we'll see."

With that he gathered up wife Victoria, children Romeo, Cruz, Brooklyn and Harper Seven, along with his father Ted, to head back north for Beverly Hills, still smirking about how he got away with fooling his team's beaten opponents over that hamstring injury.

"I got the injury on Tuesday," he said, "but I pretended I was under the weather a bit because I had a cold, although I'm not sure anybody believed me!"

What Bruce Arena believes is that Beckham can carry on with the club, the feeling strong within it that he will reject the PSG option, the Galaxy coach insisting: "David's a champion. I've been around great athletes and competitors in my life in different sports and this guy is as good as they come -- unbelievable desire to win and compete.

"If he decides to get on his horse and ride into the sunset or go elsewhere or retire, I support that. He's earned it. He's really earned the right to make the kind of decision he wants to make." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport