Thursday, February 05, 2009

Beckham to Milan?

A year and a half after the David Beckham experiment began, is it coming to an end?

Beckham has repeatedly stated that he will return to Los Angeles when his loan spell ends, Reuters reports. But in an interview last week with Corriere della Sera, he talked about how enamored he is of Milan and how frustrating life is in M.L.S.

“I am under contract and I have a lot of respect for Galaxy,” Beckham told the Italian daily. “But the possibility of playing for Milan is something special. I knew I would enjoy myself, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy myself so much.”

“I have to admit that, having played in Europe, it’s a bit frustrating in some matches,” he said about his time with the Galaxy, which failed to make the playoffs two consecutive seasons with Beckham on the roster. “But every now and then, moving from state to state, I have enjoyed myself.”

Beckham is trying to be nice, but basically his issue is with the quality of the soccer in MLS and especially the quality of his team, which has mostly struggled in recent years despite two very high-profile players. Landon Donovan, the only other legitimate "star" on the team, is flirting with the possibility of going to Germany, further depleting the firepower of the squad. Sadly, Beckham made it sound as if the neatest thing about playing in MLS is getting to see happening places like Columbus, OH and Houston, TX.

So if he leaves he leaves, but I wouldn't say the experiment was a failure even if he does. Beckham garnered a lot of quality press for MLS (CNN covered his arrival for crying out loud) and he may get LA some money, so it's all good. But it probably should serve as a further reminder that the ultimate reputation and fate of this league rests on its ability to get a high level of soccer out of mostly homegrown talent, not overpaid and undermotivated foreign stars.

UPDATE: Rick Chandler steals my wording and links to The Sun, who says that yes, Beckham has every intention of staying in Milan. And yes, it definitely sounds like the quality of soccer being played here was a factor, as well as the boost Milan gives his prospects of making England's WC squad.

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