Saturday, November 27, 2010

David Beckham Back in the EPL?

Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham walks off the pitch after winning Game 2 of their MLS Western Conference Semifinal soccer match against the Seattle Sounders in Carson, California November 7, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

The Guardian is reporting that Everton coach David Moyes is eager to sign David Beckham on a short term loan from Los Angeles Galaxy/MLS. This means the biggest MLS December soap opera has been renewed for another season.

The saga of David Beckham's time in and out of MLS since 2007 has been told many a time in many a post, so a quick summary here should suffice. After much grandstanding, breast beating, whining, ultimatum making, bullying, tantrum throwing, and appeasing, by all parties involved, Galaxy/MLS agreed to "winter" loans of David Beckham to Milan following the 2008 and 2009 MLS seasons. Unlike the European club loans of his Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan, Beckham's return to the United States prior to the start of the 2009 and 2010 MLS season was not seriously demanded by Galaxy/MLS.

Let's face it, Beckham's desire to play for Milan in 2009 and 2010 was driven by his desire to secure a spot on England's 2010 World Cup squad. Beckham would turn 35 prior to the start of South Africa 2010; therefore, it seemed likely that it would be his last chance, last hope at ever raising the World Cup trophy, at least as a player.

Beckham's dream was dashed in March of 2010 when he ruptured an Achilles tendon while playing for Milan in a match against Chievo Verona. With an expected recovery time of 8 months, it was clear that Beckham would not play in the Cup and speculation ensued as to whether Beckham would hang up his boots for good now that the Cup dream was no more.

Say what you will about Beckham and his entourage, and we have, there's never been a doubt that Beckham is most at home, most comfortable, and most in his element on the pitch. Beckham was not ready to hang up his boots and, on September 11, 2010, he made his return to the pitch and the Galaxy.

In the wake of England's lackluster Cup performance, there has been speculation as to what, if any, role Beckham would have with the England National team as it attempts to qualify for Euro 2012. England Coach Fabio Capello had indicated that he could not see Beckham playing with the national side again, but subsequently crawfished slightly by indicating that Beckham might get called up for a friendly, if fit. Meanwhile, the Beckham camp has clearly stated that Beckham has not retired from international duty and will be available whenever England calls him into a squad.

At the age of 35, Beckham is not the player he was back in the 1990s, but he isn't washed up either. In a sense, Beckham is a bit like, not completely like, but a bit like Brett Favre of the NFL. They are both aging athletes who maintain that same competitive drive and desire that they felt as younger athletes. Neither was interested in pulling a Barry Sanders and both hope to avoid pulling a Hakeem Olajuwon (though Favre appears to be on that course this season).

The thought process of the aging athlete facing the retirement decision can be heard in this audio I got from Oscar De la Hoya back in 2008 when he was attending a Houston Dynamo pre-season match:

Shortly after that interview, De la Hoya announced his retirement from boxing.

According to ESPN, Beckham, who is in Australia with the Galaxy, had this response to the Everton interest:

"I think it's always nice to be wanted and it's always nice to have options out there and I've always respected David Moyes from the time I've played with him at Preston North End ... plus I respect him as a manager," Beckham said. "It's always nice to be wanted, but I'm a Man United fan and it's a pretty close rivalry so, I don't know."

While Brett Favre has seemingly used his post-retirement seasons as a means to exact personal revenge over his prior team, the Green Bay Packers, the above quote attests to Beckham's loyalty to Manchester United, the team where he made his name as a footballer, giving a new twist to this December's soap opera. Instead of a Beckham and European club versus Galaxy/MLS in a loan deal saga, we have the new spin of the European club having to find a way to convince Beckham to return to the league where he started his professional career. Should Beckham start to show serious interest in a winter loan deal, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a couple teams from other leagues in Europe show an interest.

If Beckham seriously thinks or wants a spot on the England Euro 2012 squad, I would not blame him for seeking a winter loan to Europe. Let's face it, while MLS keeps improving, it still doesn't replicate the quality of play found in the top leagues in Europe. On the other hand, as reflected in Beckham's responses to the Everton interest, the Achilles injury has reminded Beckham of his age and it seems his fitness and ability to play a potentially grueling schedule is now a bigger factor in his decision making process. The notion of taking some time to train with a European club during this off season and then making a move back to Europe after the 2011 MLS season might be a better move for Beckham's fitness. Weighing his fitness against keeping himself on Capello's radar is what will likely drive Beckham's decision.


Just wanted to note that Zach Woosley a/k/a The Ginge a/k/a GingeFC, probably the most infamous Everton fan in the United States, had this to say about the potential Beckham loan to Everton:

Everton could use the marketing boost honestly, I wouldn't mind him coming on a short-term loan

Meanwhile, according to this picture from Goodison Park on Saturday, it seems that one Everton fan got overly excited about his team's interest in Beckham:

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