With word out today that the LA Galaxy are on the verge of closing out an agreement to send David Beckham on loan to Tottenham Hotpsurs ahead of the MLS season in March the two resident Cosby Sweaters football buffs had to sit down and debate the move. As it happens The Doctor is opposed to a loan while Black Wheaties thinks it’s a good idea. Ring the bell and away we go:
TheDoctor: For me it starts with being realistic about where Beckham is physically at this point in his career. His camp is saying this loan, just like the one that has an online application, would help his fitness as he recovers from the Achilles he tore while on loan with Milan in 2009 but I’m not buying it. Beckham is 35 years old and recovering from a major injury. Training camp with the Galaxy plus the eight-month MLS season will be more than enough time for him to round into form. His contribution to the team is as a distributor and veteran presence and not based on his ability to outrun the competition so there’s really no justifiable fitness upside to this move.
Black Wheaties: He’s rested. Too rested. Top players in world soccer are used to playing a long, long season running from late June through the end of May. The international calibre ones will compete in 50 to 70 games a year for both club and country and are accustomed to just two weeks rest in the summer before the pre-season training begins anew. The 35 year-old is used to this schedule having been a pro for nearly two decades. His Achilles injury suffered while trying to get repossession on a loan at AC Milan last winter robbed him of much of the 2010 season, and so the former England captain is rested and raring to embark on another campaign. His legs have only another year or two to sustain him through the highest level’s grueling schedule, but he takes care of himself (no known vices outside of other women) and has the longevity to pull it off again in 2011. The Galaxy season will be finished by late November after all.
TheDoctor: This is the year for the LA Galaxy. The team has invested heavily in Beckham and, over the past two years Beckham received thirteen million dollars in salary for playing in just eighteen matches, over $700,000 per game. With Landon Donovan increasingly hinting about a future move to Europe the best chance for the Galaxy to bring home an MLS cup is right now. Beckham’s profile and marketability are no longer linked to just his on-field performance as he is a pop-culture icon and one of the most recognized athletes in the world. There is no upside for MLS or the Galaxy in having Beckham in Europe, he can only raise the profile of soccer in the US by playing soccer in the US. Beckham claimed that was part of why he made the move to LA and now is the time to affirm that commitment.
BW: They save money. Let’s face it, Beckham has cost the Galaxy a lot of cash. His 5-year $32.5M contract is the most lucrative ever for a domestic soccer player and the LA Galaxy soccer team (not to be confused with brand LA Galaxy) have not received fair value for their money. His skills and form have diminished since his 2006 arrival on these shores, so they might as well pawn a little bit of that final contact year off on some willing suitors (suckers)… like Spurs. They could save a million dollars just from loaning him out for the next two and a half months.
TheDoctor: The final argument in favor of a loan, that Beckham needs this to show he still has the form to contribute to the English national team also doesn’t hold up for me. Beckham has shown he can play at the top level in Europe, there is no need to demonstrate that any further. In fact given his rust, age and being just back from a serious injury there is a real chance he might actually damage his brand by being shown to be a step slow. Has anyone thought about what happens to Brand Beckham if he gets to Europe and can’t crack the top-11? Beckham’s chance to be the first England player to play in four world cups passed him by with the injury last year. Even a successful loan and move back to the premiership at the end of his MLS deal this season won’t make him less than 39 when Brazil 2014 comes around. Fabio Capello surely gets satellite TV in his office and gets to see as much of Beckham on the field as he needs to decide if there is any benefit to his side in bringing him in for the eleven caps he would need to pass Peter Shilton (125) for the most caps all-time for England. To think a loan will help that happen seems a stretch at best.
BW: He’ll become relevant again. Much of Beckham’s value is tied up in his marketing appeal. He sells tickets, jerseys and perfume and the bottom line is where his impact is felt most. Playing back in Europe will place him back in the spotlight and headlines. If he causes a stir, be it with his on or off-field exploits, he can bring along that buzz back to these shores. Because he missed most of 2010 including the World Cup, nobody’s talking about Beckham in world soccer circles. The worst thing that can happen to a brand is for people to ignore or disregard it. Another stint in Europe will put his name back in lights.
So there you have it. Black Wheaties thinks if LA Galaxy (false) idol David Beckham wants to make yet another move back to Europe, they should pack his bags, load the car and drive him to the airport. But TheDoctor’s orders are hold onto their precious jewel and rest.
What do you think?