If the extraordinarily tough line Real Madrid are taking over David Beckham is designed to force LA Galaxy to cough up some cash for their new signing then all the signs last night were that the strategy is working.
The MLS spokesman Stephen Rodriguez believes Galaxy will look to bring Beckham to Los Angeles ahead of schedule in light of his enforced unemployment in Spain. He said: "I'm sure Alexi [Lalas, general manager] or Frank Yallop [head coach] will try to bring him over as quickly as possible. If it were just a case of buying out his contract then absolutely, they would do it."
Yallop said: "We have to wait and see what the details of his Real Madrid contract are and if can he get out of it."
Getting him out of it will no doubt involve sending some money Real Madrid's way. Their astonishment at the $250m (£128m) price put on Beckham's five years in Los Angeles, and their anger that they will not be getting a cent of it, appears to be what is behind the unusual announcement on Saturday that Beckham would not play again for the club. The Beckham camp still believe there is a possibility that Real will pay off their 31-year-old midfielder but in light of the club's grouch being financial that seems unlikely. The second possibility anticipated by Beckham is he will survive the coach Fabio Capello at Real Madrid.
The Italian's second stint at the club has thrown up more defeats than were suffered in his first season there. He has never been particularly liked by Madrid fans, who have suffered his turgid defensive style in the past because it brought success. Now there is neither flair nor results and it may be time to change managers yet again.
Option No 3 remains the most likely: that Galaxy will negotiate Beckham's exit ahead of schedule giving the Spanish club what will amount to a transfer fee. If that happens Capello will in part be vindicated. Capello insisted last night that the decision to prevent Beckham from playing first-team football was a joint one made by the club's technical staff, and not by him alone. He then added, following Real's 1-0 win over Zaragoza at the Bernabeu: "Let's not talk about David Beckham. The whole world is talking about Beckham, let's talk about the football."
The Italian also reacted to accusations against him of double standards. His critics recall his announcement that he was returning to Milan during the season in his first stint as Real's manager in 1997, in effect what Beckham has done.
But he said last night: "When I decided to leave Real Madrid 10 years ago for AC Milan it was different because I spoke to the president before I signed the contract. Beckham agreed a contract with another club whose season starts before our one ends without talking to us first."
Beckham, who watched the game last night from a private box, continues to enjoy his team-mates' support amid the drama swirling around the club.
Ruud van Nistelrooy said: "Before the game he [Beckham] was in the dressing-room wishing us well. His attitude is always good and caring for the team and the club. As players you care for each other... We tried to support him and be there for him. We can't change things unfortunately. He will make a decision. Maybe he has made the decision."Reuse content