Beckham's Milan desire

October, 20, 2008
David Beckham is going back to Europe. With the Galaxy eliminated from the postseason, thanks to a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the Dynamo on Saturday, Beckham is already plotting his next move, and he plans to train with a European club during the month of January to maintain his fitness and his place with the English national team.

It all seems harmless enough. Beckham spent last winter with Arsenal and then was back in Los Angeles, raring to go for the start of his second season. But he won't be linking up with the Gunners this time around. He has apparently chosen to train with AC Milan, a selection that should put MLS officials on alert.

The Italian media is certainly convinced there is something more to the story, as it has spent the past several days discussing how Beckham would mesh with the current Milan team. Given that he is an aging player, past his prime, he would fit in just fine. Newspapers have even speculated on whether the fashion capital of the world would suit his wife.

Milan actually came closest to preventing Beckham from joining MLS, and certain figures at the club have never hidden their admiration for him. Indeed, manager Carlo Ancelotti and vice president Adriano Galliani were both extremely coy this week when asked whether they would push to keep Beckham around permanently.

It is difficult to imagine Milan not contemplating some kind of offer, given owner Silvio Berlusconi's penchant for acquiring trophy players. The Italian giants were just a little too excited at the prospect of adding another player to their practice squad for a few weeks.

Of course, AEG and Major League Soccer have too much money invested in Beckham to ever let him go. Even a loan agreement for the remainder of the European season would mean missing the start of the 2009 MLS campaign, which is unacceptable. But the situation could, if nothing else, offer some insight into where his head is at, two years into that lucrative five-year deal.

After missing out on the playoffs for the second straight year, Beckham must be a bit disappointed at his lack of impact on the field. While last season could be written off due to injuries and a late arrival, he started 24 games in 2008. He may well be feeling doubts about his move for the first time, especially as his playing time with England starts to dwindle.

Beckham has played a total of 34 minutes in England's four World Cup qualifiers, coming on as a substitute in each match. The next 12 months will be critical if he is to carve out any kind of role in South Africa. In training with Milan every day, he will also get another taste of the big time with the very club he could have joined a year and a half ago.

It makes for an interesting test of his loyalty. The hope is Beckham makes it clear to Milan directors he is not even considering a move, and a concrete offer never reaches Don Garber's desk. To say he has unfinished business in MLS is an understatement.

Turning away Milan might leave everyone else in the world scratching their heads, including England boss Fabio Capello, but it would generate plenty of goodwill among American fans, who might be having some doubts of their own at this point.



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