GALAXY: It always was about family
There's nothing official, but David Beckham's return to the Galaxy appears certain after Paris Saint-Germain officials acknowledged Tuesday they had failed in their bid to reel in the English superstar.
In what might seem an about-face, if you've followed the coverage of the midfielder's deliberations in the French and British media, Beckham turned down a reported 18-month, $18.7 million offer from the French giant -- and it should not be at all shocking that he's done so.
This was always about his family, and the prospect of uprooting his wife and four children from the home they love was never going to be a simple decision. It weighed most heavily among Beckham's considerations, and when the Galaxy amplified its offer -- extending a rolling one-year contract, apparently an 11th-hour reach as it became clear their biggest star was ready to depart -- there was only so much more thinking to do.
Leonardo, who as PSG's sporting director was instrumental in the Qatari-owned club's pursuit of Beckham, was admitting defeat last week when he acknowledged that “he has his family [in L.A.] ... it’s always been a question of personal matters.”
Beckham and the Galaxy have said nothing through the process -- in great contrast to PSG -- and his reps have stepped up only to remind everybody that he has not made any decision and continues to mull options. That's how it stands. Other clubs also have expressed interest in his services, some publicly and some apparently not, and it is not certain Beckham has turned all of them down, too.
But he has told PSG no.
“David Beckham is not coming,” club president Nasser al-Khelaifi said Tuesday at the Qatar Open tennis tournament, where it had been hoped Beckham would appear to sign with PSG. “We feel a little disappointed. But both sides agreed it would be better that we not do the deal … maybe in the future. ...
“David Beckham is [with] Los Angeles. And he’s going to stay there.”
L.A., as long as it got its offer right, was going to be the frontrunner in this race, no matter that the Europeans believed there was no way Beckham would choose to remain in a substandard league when well-funded PSG was aiming to step up among the game's real giants.
What didn't they know? What had they forgotten?
First, that the Beckhams absolutely love Los Angeles. They have a beautiful Beverly Hills home, the freedom to move about with as little (or as much) attention as they desire, a real connection to the community -- it's not all just courtside seats at the Lakers and late-night In-N-Out runs -- and Victoria has a thriving fashion career here.
Their sons are typical California boys at a glance, and this is what they know as home. Romeo, 9, and Cruz, 6, have been based in L.A. most of their lives, and Brooklyn, 12, almost half his life. Harper, the Beckhams' infant daughter, was born here.
And Beckham knows his work isn't finished, neither on nor off the field. His real impact on American soccer is just starting to be felt -- he made Major League Soccer a destination, and now players who never would have considered an American club are angling to find a way in -- and the next step, wherever that leads, could be more dramatic, more sensational, more satisfying.
Beckham's on-field experience in L.A. -- diminished in his first four seasons by, at first, a bad team, then injuries and loan deals that had him in Milan until June -- finally blossomed in 2011. He spent the full year with the Galaxy for the first time and was the pivotal figure in a magnificent campaign that closed with the MLS Cup title he and his teammates so coveted.
The triumph was culmination of more than three years of Bruce Arena's work rebuilding an ailing franchise, and Beckham wanted to be part of the next chapter. Especially with one more big prize, the CONCACAF Champions Cup -- and a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup if victorious -- up for grabs come spring.
The other concern for him was the role he's going to play at next summer's London Olympics. He played a role in bringing the Games to his hometown and wants, perhaps more than anything else in soccer, to be part of the unified British side that will constructed for the tournament.
Playing for PSG wasn't going to be an advantage in this quest: As long as he's healthy, Beckham is going to be one of Britain's three over-23 players on the roster, and he'll almost surely serve as captain. The Galaxy never has had a problem giving him time off for the Olympics. The soccer competition begins July 26, and the gold-medal match is Aug. 12.
The value of Beckham's return to the Galaxy can be debated, and we likely won't know the numbers until the MLS Players Union releases salary figures in early spring. Extra incentives, such as an executive position with club owner AEG (as reported in the European media), could remain hidden.
On the field, Beckham's re-signing would answer a lot of questions, mostly about midfield organization, the efficiency of the attack, and the culture within the team. Beckham's partner in central midfield, Juninho, has returned to Sao Paulo, and he'd have to build a relationship with another Brazilian, Marcelo Sarvas, whom the Galaxy signed last month from Alajuelense.
The biggest remaining issues for Arena and Co. concern purported European and Mexican interest in center back Omar Gonzalez and whether Landon Donovan, currently on loan in England with Everton, should be paired up top with Irishman Robbie Keane. Everything else is details.