Los Angeles Soccer: Flamengo
Politicians on the left have bashed the numbers in his reported 18-month, $18.7 million contract offer -- about $240,000 a week -- and the opposition Socialist Party is proposing legislation that would make such deals illegal.
Beckham would be the best-paid athlete in France if he accepts the PSG deal. Newspapers last week reported he had agreed in principle with the Ligue 1 leader, and Agence France Presse reported that he might sign while attending a tennis tournament next week in Qatar, home to the club's owners. Beckham's representatives called it “premature” speculation and denied the midfielder, who is vacationing in London, had made a decision about his future.
British broadsheet The Telegraph, citing sources in the Beckham camp, reported Thursday that Beckham has scuttled offers from Brazil, Italy and the Middle East and is seriously considering another season in Los Angeles.
Some French politicians, perhaps preparing for next year's presidential election, began railing against the Beckham contract numbers last week.
“I’ve had enough of these enormous salaries,” French Socialist MP Jean-Marc Ayrault told Britain's Daily Express. “It’s not just with football players, but also businessmen who should have their salaries capped.”
Eva Joly, a judge who is running for president, called the numbers “shocking” and questioned the wisdom of paying a player of Beckham's age -- he'll be 37 in May -- so much money.
“It’s not a game, it’s business,” said the judge, who has followed an anti-corruption agenda. “At his age and with the state of his knees, he’s going to be selling T-shirts. The salary is shocking because of the economic crisis and an example of how huge sums of money are concentrated in the hands of very few people.”
If reports that Ronaldinho could be coming to Major League Soccer are more than just speculation or posturing, then don't be too surprised if he ends up somewhere other than the Galaxy.
That's the latest from France, where some of the Brazilian superstar's representatives are based: that the “big offer” being prepared is not with L.A.
Ronaldinho, 31, has been linked to the Galaxy for some time, and there were reports in Europe and Brazil that he was bound for L.A. before signing last January with Rio de Janeiro-based Flamengo following a decade in Europe with Paris-Saint Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan.
Reports have resurfaced, claiming the attacker could be the replacement if David Beckham signs with Paris Saint-Germain, as French media claim he will do shortly after New Year's, but MLS-News, a French website that covers MLS and is an “official partner” of University Elite Athletes USA -- a French management agency working to move Ronaldinho to the U.S. league -- says that might not be so.
“Yes, we're trying to bring Ronnie to the league, but there may be a surprise in which club he could play for,” said Jerome Meary, a University Elite Athletes USA representative the website said was “handling the case jointly with MLS.”
“We are preparing a big offer, but it is not with Los Angeles.”
Meary told MLS-News that the Galaxy has right of refusal on Ronaldinho. The player's French adviser Michael Wiesenfeld, founder of the New York-based European Football Group agency (and a former marketing assistant at PSG), last week told the website that negotiations with the Galaxy had begun last summer and “are intensifying.”
Still no word on David Beckham's future, and we're not expecting anything definitive until next week, but that hasn't stopped the reports in the French media, which assumes the Galaxy midfielder has (or will) accept Paris Saint-Germain's 18-month, $18.7 million offer.
If that happens, might Ronaldinho take his place?
MLS-News, a French website that covers MLS, claims the Galaxy has revived its interest in the Brazilian superstar, who apparently wants top leave Flamengo for MLS.
Ronaldinho has been linked to the Galaxy for some time, and there were ample reports in Europe and Brazil that he was bound for L.A. before signing last January with the Rio de Janeiro-based club following stints at Paris-Saint Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan.
He would make close to $10 million a season, his French-based agent, Michael Wiesenfeld, told the website. “We've been in negotiations since this summer,” he said. “And they are intensifying.”
The Galaxy does not comment on prospective players.
Ronaldinho, according to Brazilian reports, hasn't been paid in months by the sports management agency Traffic, which is responsible for about 68 percent of his $627,000-a-month Flamengo salary. He has scored 21 goals in 52 matches for the club, all competitions.
Beckham's contract with the Galaxy expires Dec. 31, and although there are options in England and elsewhere, he figures to sign with PSG or re-sign with L.A.
The Galaxy was unable to corral Ronaldinho -- if there was, indeed, real interest. The club never acknowledged reports here, in Europe and Brazil that it was pursuing the Brazilian superstar, who signed with Rio de Janeiro giant Flamengo.
Now, according to reports in Brazil, L.A. is out to sign another massive Brazilian star: Roberto Carlos, once the finest attacking left back in the game.
Jornal da Tarde in Sao Paulo reported Friday that Roberto Carlos has told friends he has a “financially very good” offer from the Galaxy. The newspaper said Roberto Carlos, whose contract with Sao Paulo-based Corinthians ends this year, could step in when David Beckham's contract expires at season's end as the club's “idol and pitchman.”
Roberto Carlos turns 38 in April.
The Galaxy, of course, declined comment, and speculation that Roberto Carlos could join the club this season doesn't appear possible. L.A. already has maxed out its Designated Player slots -- Beckham, Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel -- and Roberto Carlos is not going to consider a sub-DP offer as “financially very good.”
Jornal da Tarde said the defender is looking to leave Corinthians after receiving threats following the club's preliminary-round loss in Copa Lbertadores, South America's club championship, but in a blog post at the newspaper's Web site later Friday, Roberto Carlos denied he wanted out and said he had no deal with the Galaxy, telling the newspaper: “No, I'm not leaving, no.”
He was one of the world's premier players in the late 1990s and in the first years of this century, starring for 11 seasons with Real Madrid and making 125 appearances for Brazil's national team, which he represented in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups. Brazil won the title in 2002.
News item: Ronaldinho negotiating to leave AC Milan.
What this means for the Galaxy, who can tell? The 30-year-old Brazilian superstar has been linked to L.A. for a couple of years now, but the club has never officially confirmed its interest no matter what's reported nor how it's sourced.
Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts hinted in July that Ronaldinho would “in the next couple days” be en route to the Galaxy -- didn't happen -- and Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport last month reported that the playmaker had reached an agreement with L.A.
Now Roberto de Assis, Ronaldinho's brother/agent -- and the primary source on all the L.A. talk -- says the likely destination is Brazil.
He told Radio Bandeirantes last week that a deal with Palmeiras was possible -- the Sao Paulo club is reportedly offering a three-year, $29 million contract -- that “Ronaldinho would like to return to Brazil because he has the desire to win the trophies that he is still missing, like the Brasileirao [national championship] and Copa Libertadores.”
Ronaldinho's contract with Milan doesn't end until June, but Il Corriere dello Sport, another Italian daily, reported Wednesday that negotiations to depart in January are ongoing and that Gremio -- Ronaldinho's first club, based in Porto Alegre -- and Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo also have made offers.