David Beckham: Where Does Brand Beckham Go Next?
While Beckham's influence on the MLS is undeniable in that he managed to convince top players Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane to join him in America, the extent to which Brand Beckham made the MLS what it is today is quite debatable.
The attendance at the Home Depot Center improved only by 25 percent, and the boost of MLS attendance and viewership in the post-Beckham MLS era is likely to have been the result of a decision to expand the number of franchises in the MLS.
That being said, the million-dollar question that is on everyone's lips is, quite evidently, which soccer club is David Beckham going to play for next?
With the media exploding with speculation as the January transfer window in Europe draws closer, it is hard to argue that Beckham does not have a plethora of options to choose from as he signs what could be his last contract as a professional soccer player at the age of 37.
With French side Paris Saint-Germain, English sides such as Queens Park Rangers and Fulham, along with a host of Australian A-League teams interested in snatching up Beckham, and with him, the incontrovertible commercial benefits and advantages that the brand he has built around himself brings, it will be interesting to see the reasoning behind his next move. This is especially fascinating considering that Beckham’s options represent a wide assortment of ways to construct a final narrative in what will possibly be his last stint as a professional soccer player.
In Paris Saint-Germain, Beckham could have another (albeit, outside) shot at European glory with Carlo Ancelotti, a manager he played under during his first loan stint at AC Milan in 2009, with a plethora of exciting talented players to play alongside in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore, to name a few.
With the French media reporting that Beckham has already been offered a contract, and Beckham revealing that Ancelotti was one of many people who had personally congratulated him on his recent MLS success, one could assume that PSG is a likely option for Beckham to move to come January.
Nonetheless, with PSG backed by the Qatar Investment Authority who have injected immense amounts of money for Ancelotti to spend in the last year or so in the hope of delivering instant results in terms of trophies, it would be hard to see how a 37-year old Beckham would be more than a squad player for a club that attempts to break into the spotlight in Europe, while simultaneously ending a 19-year Ligue 1 drought at home in France.
If anything, PSG would benefit immensely from having a superstar name in David Beckham at their club, but it would be surprising to see Beckham play more than a bit-part role at PSG.
For these reasons, it is hard to envisage a situation in which Beckham is offered a contract longer than one season, and that could prove to be a decisive factor in Beckham's all-important decision as a player.
Beckham spent 10 memorable years at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson. Their relationship has deteriorated since, at the very least to the point where it would be shocking to see him return to United, and it would make little sense for Beckham to return to England only to play for a relegation-threatened side in QPR or for a perpetual mid-table club in Fulham.
Beckham's age and fitness would also be a concern for any club in the Premier League and would represent a risk, taking into consideration the likelihood that his services would command a sizable fee in weekly wages.
As unlikely as it may sound, that leaves Australia and the budding A-League as one of a select few viable options for Beckham. The A-League in Australia displays a number of obvious parallels to the MLS in America and has recently been in the news for two marquee signings from Europe, Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero who plays for Sydney FC, and Emile Heskey, the ex-Liverpool/Aston Villa striker who plays for the Newcastle Jets.
The quality of Australia's national squad is in certain ways similar to that of the United States, with the very best players breaking into the elite European leagues (Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka all played in the Premier League at one point; Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan also did the same) and both national sides making constant improvements annually as the sport continues to grow in both nations.
David Gallop, the Football Federation Australia CEO, is reportedly hopeful of capturing Beckham's services for an A-League side, with as many as three teams reportedly interested in bringing Beckham down under - and with the buzz Del Piero and Heskey have created, there is no better time to move to Australia on a permanent basis for Beckham.
His commercial appeal and the subsequent media coverage that will undoubtedly transpire with his arrival will help the sport significantly grow in Australia, and will possibly entice more star soccer players to move to the A-League at some point in their careers.
But while taking on the challenge of developing the sport in another country where soccer is on the rise could be enticing to Beckham, one would have to consider that his decision could also hinge on his wife, Victoria Beckham, whose career as a fashion designer at the age of 38 is seemingly far from coming to an end in the same manner as Beckham's playing career.
However, the only A-League side that seems like a viable option for Beckham would be Melbourne Heart, as Allan Jiang pointed out, considering they provide Beckham and his family the essential choice of living a certain posh lifestyle that they have more than likely become accustomed to in Madrid and Los Angeles.
Another important element to consider is the fact that the A-League is not as large as the MLS with respect to the amount of money the league or its clubs can spend on one player, and the chances of Beckham landing a full-time contract at any of the aforementioned clubs is not necessarily inconceivable as much as it is improbable.
As always, Beckham's decision just like any other tough call, will turn out to be a matter of balancing out the pros and cons of each option for his family, and for himself as a professional soccer player who is undoubtedly nearing the culmination of his career that has spanned almost two decades now.
Despite all of this, one thing is certain: Brand Beckham's immense value is still, despite David's age, coveted by a plethora of soccer clubs all over the world, and come January, David Beckham is going to have to make that all-important decision of where to spend what are possibly going to be his last days as a professional soccer player; the conclusion to a glamorous and incredibly successful career.