David Beckham will return to the Los Angeles Galaxy after signing a new contract that will likely see the England midfielder end his playing career in Major League Soccer.
Several weeks of negotiations were finally completed on Wednesday, with Galaxy officials giving their agreement for Beckham to take as much time as necessary if he is selected to play for Great Britain in the London Summer Games.
Beckham’s decision is expected to be announced during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon – and represents a significant coup for the Galaxy.
After Beckham helped the team to the MLS Cup title in November, it was thought that he would leave the club, having completed the four-and-a-half-year deal he inked on his arrival in the summer of 2007.
French giant Paris Saint-Germain quickly emerged as the favorite to sign him, with reports emerging in the French press that the player and his wife, Victoria, had already looked at houses in Paris.
Beckham was irked that L.A. left it late to reveal its hand regarding a fresh contract. Galaxy owners AEG waited until just before the Beckham family was heading out of California to celebrate Christmas in the United Kingdom, then put in a strong and ultimately successful offer.
The agreement, which will free the 36-year-old to not only play in but also undertake an ambassadorial role in the 2012 Olympics, was a significant part of the deal-making process.
Beckham was involved in the efforts of the London bidding group that won Olympic hosting rights back in 2005, and he has often voiced his excitement in being part of the event.
“When I was asked to be part of the bid team that was going to bring the Olympics to London, I was surprised at first because obviously I have never competed in an Olympics and never been part of that,” Beckham told Yahoo! Sports recently. “When we won it to bring the Olympics back to the East End of London, where I grew up, it was a dream come true. It is going to be a proud moment, and I definitely want to be part of that Great Britain team.”
The arrangement might see Beckham miss up to three weeks of MLS action, but he would be back in time to take part in the Galaxy’s expected playoff run.
Great Britain does not typically field an Olympic team, but it is making an exception because the Games will be on its home soil. Beckham hopes to be chosen as one of three permitted “over-age” players in the under-23 tournament.
The Galaxy looked at other options, such as unsettled Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, but its first preference was always to get Beckham to return.
With Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane both returning with the Galaxy, hopes will be high that MLS’ most expensively assembled team can put together a strong run for back-to-back titles – though the absence of injury victim Omar Gonzalez will be a serious loss.
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