David Beckham, Real Madrid and the cost of pride

Real Madrid are notoriously hard negotiators – one of the richest clubs in the world haggles over the smallest amounts like an arrogant, miserly old bastard who probably just enjoys imposing himself on others.

They know when they’re beat and need to pay up (the silly amounts paid for South American talent this winter is proof enough of that), but most other times they enjoy squeezing other clubs for every possible penny.

Not that it’s a bad trait (well, more like ‘smart business strategy’), but it’s impersonal and tends to treat players as monetary values and objective values of talent, not as people and the benefit they would bring to the squad itself.

The David Beckham-Real Madrid-Fabio Capello situation is something of the latter – This is a case where Real Madrid feel they have an upper hand and, having initially bought David Beckham for his ‘star appeal’, are prepared to let him go if he doesn’t heel to their contract demands (which amount to sitting at home, selling Madrid t-shirts and accepting less and less money each year).

On one hand, Madrid’s concerns are fair – and for once, they are fuelled by concerns for results on the pitch and are spearheaded by a man who can actually be trusted to bring about solid results – Fabio Capello. With Robinho, Raul and Reyes patrolling the wings Real has little need for Beckham. In the long run, Beckham’s lack of pace trumps every advantage he brings to the team.

Capello wants Becks to go, the Real Madrid board wants him to stay (so he can sell shirts). What about Becks himself?

I talked about this a while back, saying that either Beckham should swallow his pride and move on to a smaller club where he gets a chance to play (which is eventually what he really wants), or he should face the notion that his England dreams are over and he should put up his shoes and retire.

Beckham isn’t a quitter, so it’s hard to imagine that he can retire (even if it might be the best thing for him to do). Following Figo’s footsteps to Inter is one option, although how much the brats of Serie A would want him is a different story.

Staying at Madrid is a ridiculous idea – sure, you get paid well (even less of what he earns now must be enough to fund trips to Hollywood now and then), but Becks wants to play and Capello wants him out.

It’s a tough choice – on one hand Becks would want to stay at a top club (the reason why he chose Madrid over Barca), on the other hand he wants to play. I think at the end the desire to play ‘should’ win out if Becks is as sensible as I hold him up to be…which means Becks will leave Madrid, and that leaves us with these options:

Seria A – Inter and Milan could both move for him.
Premiership – Very doubtful that he would play for anyone else apart from United in the Prem.
US – LA Galaxy is a often-quoted destination, but why would Becks want to disappear into obscurity?

Ultimately, it might just come down to the lack of options available to Becks. If no clubs (apart from LA Galaxy) come calling, Becks could be forced to sign for Madrid. Or, he could be thrown out on his ass and left at the mercy of other clubs who could then pick him without paying a transfer fee.

Like him or not, Beckham has managed to polarise opinion whenever he’s mentioned. It’s a story of guts, determination, a desire to be the best unfortunately not matched with the requisite talent to be that good. Where Reyes and Ruud and Ronaldo (the fat one and the diver) were born to play football, Becks learned it and taught himself to be as good as he is.

Trouble with that is, sooner or later you get found, and your story is left incomplete.

Without a return to England or Manchester United (will they give him a testimonial when he retires?), that’s how it will stay with David Beckham.

Arrow to top