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Tuesday, November 22, 2011
GALAXY: Beckham mulling his options

By Scott French

David Beckham is staying in L.A.

Whether he'll continue to play for the Galaxy is another matter altogether -- he's got options, and he'll be mulling them as the club heads off this weekend for its postseason tour of Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia -- but soccer's biggest name says Los Angeles will continue to be home no matter where he plies his trade.

“We have had such a great five years here,” Beckham told Yahoo! Sports following the Galaxy's 1-0 triumph over the Houston Dynamo in Sunday's MLS Cup final at Home Depot Center. “We plan on keeping our house here and spending the majority of our time here as a family. It is a great place for our children to grow up. We have been treated so well in this country, so we won’t be getting rid of our house.

“When you live in California, the weather is amazing every single day. For our children to be able to go to school and come home and go to the beach or jump in the pool, you don’t get that many places in the world. The whole friendliness of everybody -- it has been very laid back. We get a certain amount of privacy with certain things we do in the U.S., that has been very nice to have.

“Over the years it has always been about the professional side, what team am I going to play for -- my decisions have always been about that. But I have got a growing family, I am at the stage of my career where it is about my family, whatever makes them happy is the most important thing. I have been playing this game for a long time, I love being on successful teams and playing good football, and I plan on continuing to do that.”

Beckham, 36, has said all along that he'll take some time when the season's done, as it is now, to talk things over with his family about whether to accept a new contract from the Galaxy (supposedly at a discounted rate) or sign on for suddenly rich Paris Saint-Germain or return to London to play for Tottenham. There are other offers out there, across Europe, in England and around the globe, but PSG and Spurs are the real suitors.

Beckham's latest statement on where he'll go matches all the earlier ones: His choice is coming, it's just not here yet.

“I have a decision to make, and I haven't made it yet,” he told BBC Radio One. “I've got options, which is amazing at my age. A couple of big European clubs are after me. I need to sit down with friends and family and decide what's best for me. I might still be here next year playing.”

During the post-final news conference, Beckham noted that he “might talk in the past tense now and then, but that doesn't mean I'm not coming back.”

In the Galaxy's postgame celebration at Staples Center, Beckham “gave this toast, saying this has been a good night for all of our families to spend together,” a league source told The Boston Globe. “It was not like 'this is the end.' “

Said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena: "I think he's got three choices: He stays in L.A., he plays elsewhere or else he doesn't play. Whatever he decides to do, I'll support him 100 percent. He's earned that. If he decides to get on his horse and ride off into the sunset, go elsewhere, retire, I'm all for it. He's earned the right to make the kind of decision he wants to make.”

Paris Saint-Germain, the likeliest destination if Beckham chooses to move on, is courting the star midfielder much the same way, and with the same goals, as the Galaxy did five years ago. They could use his skills on the field, of course -- he's still delivers the best long ball in the game -- but it's about branding and growing the club into something very big.

Leonardo, PSG's manager, said he thinks it's 50-50 that Beckham heads to France. The club might be the world's richest since Qatar Sport Investment -- the Qatari government and Olympic Committee -- took charge in August, and Qatar's position as host of the 2022 World Cup, along with the ruling Al Thani family's many riches, provides opportunities off the field.

The Brazilian manager told Britain's The Independent that Beckham's arrival would show “we are in the new world” and that he hoped “to use it to build something big.” Nasser al-Khelaifi, PSG's Qatari president, said Beckham is “not just a footballer but a brand.”


UPDATE (noon PT):
Beckham has told Sky Sports News that he has not had conversations with Leonardo about joining PSG. “He sent me a message of good luck, but I have not spoken to him about a PSG move,” he said. As for Tottenham, Beckham acknowledged, as he has previously, that if he were to return to England, “unless it was for Manchester United, I would feel weird. ... I am still a Man United fan, so playing for another [English] club would be weird, and I don't think that will happen -- but who knows.”


WORTH NOTING: Beckham finished the MLS season with 19 assists, regular season and playoffs, which is one more than Houston's Brad Davis, who added two playoff assists to his regular-season best 16. ... Landon Donovan's winner Sunday was his third goal of these playoffs, but his first not from a penalty kick. His record 20 playoff goals give him 135 in all MLS games (with 103 assists), third-best in league history, behind Jaime Moreno (145) and Jeff Cunningham (139). Cunningham is No. 1 for the regular season with 134, one more than Moreno. Others with 100-plus goals for regular season and playoffs: Ante Razov (125), Jason Kreis (112), Taylor Twellman (111), Carlos Ruiz (104) and Roy Lassiter (101). Dwayne De Rosario has 98. ... Zonal Marking, a soccer website worth bookmarking, has a tactical analysis of the Galaxy's victory over Houston that's decent reading. ... ESPN's ratings for the final weren't great -- an 0.8 overnight, which means just 0.8 percent of households in 56 urban TV markets tuned on -- and trailed Fox Soccer Channel's delayed telecast Sunday afternoon of the Chelsea-Liverpool showdown in England, which drew a 1.5.