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Sunday, January 1, 2012
Eto'o for Beckham? Lampard?

By Scott French

The newest big name to emerge as a potential replacement for David Beckham: Samuel Eto'o.

An old name gaining traction: Frank Lampard.

Eto'o first. The National, an English-language daily in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, reports that Major League Soccer has offered $25 million to the superstar Cameroonian striker, with the Galaxy or New York Red Bulls his likely destination.

Eto'o, 30, is paid $25 million annually after taxes by rising Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, according to media reports. Beckham, whose decision to stay with the Galaxy or accept a contract from Paris Saint-Germain is expected any day, has been MLS's highest-paid player, making $5.5 million in salary each year. His contract with the Galaxy expired Saturday.

It sounds far-fetched. The report claims that MLS “manages the recruitment of overseas players on a league-wide basis,” but the league doesn't do that at all. Rather, all contracts within MLS are with the league, although Designated Player pacts -- such as Beckham's or any contract that Eto'o might consider -- are framed differently than others. In addition, nobody in MLS is going to be paying $25 million to any player.

Anzhi Makhachkala, which in August signed Eto'o to a three-year, $75 million deal from Inter Milan, has reportedly set a $62 million transfer fee for the former Barcelona striker.
There has been speculation and reports of negotiations with several top international stars as Beckham's contract has neared its end, with the Galaxy reportedly interested in, talking to or making offers to, among others, Flamengo's Ronaldinho and Chelsea's Didier Drogba.

Lampard, also at Chelsea, might be the likeliest arrival should L.A. go for the big splash. British tabloid The Sun reported Saturday that Beckham has twice spoken to the midfielder in the past two weeks to encourage his interest.

Lampard, 33, an England national team star who has been a force for Chelsea since 2001, has been repeatedly left out of the Blues' starting lineup this year by new manager Andre Villas-Boas. He's expressed interest in playing in MLS, according to reports in England, and Beckham apparently told him how much he'd love life in Los Angeles.

The Sun says Beckham is leaning toward signing a one-year rolling contract with the Galaxy, and L.A.'s other two Designated Player slots are taken by Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. But an “MLS source” told the newspaper that there “could be a way around the rules so Lampard could also join.”

Lampard makes $12.1 million annually in salary and would be looking for a similar deal, according to British media reports.