Americans calculate the benefit of signing Beckham

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The Independent Football

Major League Soccer officials are working out the financial implications of what they see as a "terrific" chance to lure David Beckham to the United States.

The former England captain's contract at Real Madrid expires at the end of the season, and he will be allowed to speak to other clubs from 1 January if he does not sign a new deal by then. The Los Angeles Galaxy have confirmed their interest in signing the 31-year-old, whose protracted contract negotiations with Real remain ongoing.

The MLS commissioner, Don Garber, says officials are working out if the league would get a return - in sponsorship and ticket sales - on any potential investment in Beckham.

"We're doing analysis and we should complete that in the next 30 days," Garber said. "We'd certainly like to see him here. Beckham is a cultural world icon - and if we can get him in this league, people will care and they'll come out and see our games. If we could have him here we think it would be terrific."

Garber acknowledges Beckham would serve as a great marketing tool but says the former Manchester United player still has a role to play on the pitch.

"It's a marketing opportunity, and this is a guy who was one of the better players on the English national team during the World Cup - so he is a player we think is very strong," he said.

In order to sign Beckham, the MLS would need to alter its salary cap rules. At present, teams can spend no more than $1.9m (£1m) a season on wages. Beckham, who has struggled to secure a first-team place at Real this season under new manager Fabio Capello, has a football academy in Los Angeles.

The leading psychologist Professor Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at the University of Lancaster, believes a move across the Atlantic may be a natural "family choice" for the Beckhams.

"Going to the States would take them out of the limelight," Cooper said. "He would still be able to play football, although not at the highest level - and the lifestyle of the US may suit his family at this stage. They will ask the questions: 'Do I want good quality of life and to invest in my family, without the spotlight on me all of the time and the media on my tail every five minutes?' If it is that, then there is only one way to go."

Cooper added: "Then there is another issue - when football is over, what does he do? The academies would be good for him because he loves to work with kids, you can see that. He has got a certain charisma and would do well at that."

Cooper believes Beckham - who has had to face the end of his international career and resign himself to starting Real Madrid games from the bench since resigning the England captaincy - would have walked away from football by now if he did not still care passionately about the game and his country.

"David Beckham has not just an individual achievement objective - he wanted the country to win, and identified strongly with that. If you do not have that passion, then you walk away from it."

Cooper maintains it will not be long before the midfielder "bounces back" to top form. "It is like anybody in a job - when you are at the top of your profession and then not picked for promotion, it has a massive impact on your self-confidence and ultimately your self-esteem," he said.

"This happens a lot to people in jobs where they are getting near to retirement, or younger people are coming up and eclipsing them. You are perceived as having lost your edge - that happens to everyone in their career at some time... But he looks to be able to cope very well and although his confidence will be affected in the short term, he is a guy who is going to bounce back."