Beckham’s form: Good for England; bad for MLS

David Beckham’s great from in recent games for Real has paid dividends for his ambitions to play again for the national squad. And yesterday’s game against Brazil vindicated Steve McLaren’s decision to recall Beckham.
However, this means that Beckham’s commitment to the national squad in their friendlies and qualifiers for the Euro 2008 will mean time away from the LA Galaxy, which he is supposed to join this July. England is in fourth place in their group and their qualifying is tenuous. Their next game is against Estonia. Surely, an easy match but this England squad is struggling to be a cohesive whole. The LA Galaxy also finds itself in the same predicament placed at the bottom of the MLS western conference.
A recent report states that Alexi Lalas, LA Galaxy’s manager is delighted by Beckham’s form and that MLS will finally get a star still at his peak of his career reversing a trend to come here at the sunset of their careers. But Lalas should realize that it cuts both ways. Beckham’s recent form also means that he is attractive to the big European clubs.
I have never been convinced of Beckham’s desire to play for MLS. His transfer was partially a consequence of his fallout with Fabio Capello at Real when the Real manager benched him even when injury free. Now that Real is pushing Barca to the brink for the Liga title thanks in large part to Beckham’s eye catching performances, Capello can’t sing enough of his praises. Back in Beckham’s summer of discontent at Real, there was speculation that he was seeking a return to the Premiership and he was linked to a number of clubs, including Tottenham which Martin Jol squelched emphatically because they already had Aaron Lennon, whose injury, ironically, made McLaren’s decision to include Beckham in the England squad a lot easier. The bottomline was that the Premiership felt that Beckham had passed his prime. The doors closed on him and then came the big MLS announcement.
So look for Beckham to cast his eyes across the pond when he does come to the MLS. But this time there will be a number of clubs interested. In fact, I have a feeling that Real might be re-negotiating his transfer back. Maybe Freddy Shepherd would like Beckham to join Michael Owen at St James Park. Because Beckham still believes that he can play with the big boys. His 20 million dollar Malibu mansion will still be around when he finally decides to hang up his boots and become a sports analyst for ESPN.

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