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Saturday, December 31, 2011
No. 2: What will Becks do?

By Scott French

Counting down the 11 biggest 2011 stories in Southern California soccer ...


Where will David Beckham play in 2012?

That's the question that mystified us most this year, and as the hours run out on his five-year contract with the Galaxy, we know nearly as much as we did 12 months ago.

He's either staying in L.A. or heading to Paris, it appears, with an answer due any moment. Beckham has said nothing beyond that he'll make a decision after consulting his family during the holidays, and he said that several weeks ago.

Beckham, 36, has made a massive impact on Major League Soccer, the sport in America and certainly the Galaxy since arriving in the summer of 2007, and the on-field payoff came this year: His masterful performance, while dealing with an ailing back nearly all season, was pivotal in L.A.'s MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield triumphs and its march, as a group-winner, to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

The Galaxy want him back and have offered a one-year deal (reportedly with a post-career position within club owner AEG). Beckham and his family love L.A., but the riches Paris Saint-Germain is offering might be too tempting.

PSG's Qatari ownership sees Beckham much as Major League Soccer and the Galaxy did, as a marketing tool (who still has game; a big plus) who commands huge and frenzied attention. He might be the world's biggest celebrity, and that means more to a club (and, more so, ownership) that has aspirations well beyond what occurs in France's Ligue 1 and UEFA's Champions League.

They've offered, according to French media reports, $18.7 million for 18 months, and two French newspapers reported last week he'd agreed. He'll sign the contract next week in Doha. Or is it Dubai? One report says this, another that . . .

Beckham's reps say this proposed arrangement is a sham, that no decision has been made, that their man continues to mull his options (which at one point included interest from England, Italy, Brazil and the Middle East), no doubt with input from his family. Even Leonardo, PSG's sporting director (and Beckham's former coach during an AC Milan loan stting), acknowledged this week that Beckham might not be coming, that he has a life in L.A.

Good news for Galaxy fans? Could be. The longer it takes, the better the prospect. There's no rush to sign with L.A. -- preseason is still three weeks or so away -- but PSG wants him in uniform next weekend.

And did we mention? He loves L.A.