The adage that you need to spend money to make money is in many ways absolute bunk. But in the case of David Beckham, it's axiomatic.
The man has shouldered not a few emblems: as a Manchester United hero, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Real Madrid star, international sex symbol, and finally, we all thought, as an accomplished old-timer come to help grow soccer in America. But now, it seems, he's ready for another adventure.
"I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy," Beckham said in a statement. "However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career."
Cue the speculation and punning titles (see above).
Will he go to Australia? Probably not. How about Paris Saint-Germain? Possible. There's been talk linking the two before, but then again, this is sports. There's always talk.
Will Beckham go back to the English Premier League? After he left Manchester United he said he'd never play for another English team, and Manchester boss Alex Furgason is not keen to increase the age of his already geriatric midfield.
It's true that Beckham can still bend a free kick and supply clinical in-swingers with the best of them. He's a sniper. But as his consistent absence from England's national team demonstrates — painfully to Beckham and obviously to the rest of us — he is over the hill. Indeed, as the metaphor suggests, he's a player who offers diminishing returns on the pitch. "Time," wrote playwright Author Miller, "is inimical to man." And it really sucks for professional athletes.
But who cares about athletic performance?
As so many have said, Beckham is much more than a soccer player. Tony Karon wrote in 2005:
Beckham’s “real appeal is as an icon, the handsome, soft-spoken, family man… with a global pop-idol appeal… To put it unkindly, while Beckham’s contribution to Real Madrid’s performances on the field will always be eclipsed by the likes of Zidane… he has no peer when it comes to selling the club’s shirts to teenagers in Asia."
And then there's PSG sporting director Leonardo's comment to the BBC. He said Beckham was “more than a football player — he’s a brand, a pop star. I would always consider him.”
Teams want Beckham for the same reason the MLS wanted/needed him. It's the same reason he's done so much as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. In a word: fame. Wherever he goes, wallets will follow.
In this humble blogger's opinion, it's likely to be Asia for Beckham. He's already responsible for growing the sport in America. Why not China? Why not Asia?
And then he could return, the triumphant hero, finally ready to gather some moss, as it were.
"I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league," Beckham said. "As my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future."