Beckham Leaves Madrid on a Sour Note

David Beckham’s exit from Real Madrid will be far from graceful. Beckham signed up with the Los Angeles Galaxy for a deal reportedly worth more than US$250 million over the next five years although he still has 6 months to go on his present contract. Apparently, both Beckham and his present club can’t wait until June to bid each other adieu.

Beckham rarely started of late and has been at odds with Real Madrid’s coach, Fabio Capello. Things didn’t improve with the formal announcement of Beckham’s move. Capello was quoted as saying that Beckham would not play again for Madrid in the period before his contract expires. There’s talk of a lawsuit.

But the striker’s impending departure is probably good for both Madrid and Beckham. The Spanish football institution was distracted by all the hype and glitter surrounding their superstar player. And clearly, Beckham is not the force on the pitch that he once was. Madrid is better off with its younger, hungrier and much less expensive players like Argentine Gonzalo Higauin. Proof of this is a Beckham-less Real Madrid winning over Real Zaragoza in its last game, its first in four outings.

Beckham will obviously benefit from his move to Hollywood. He may still be playing well, but his best days are probably behind him. The official line is that Beckham is moving to the U.S. to help boost soccer with the largely indifferent and sports-saturated American public. The real reason is the promotion of Beckham the Brand. He needs what has been called a “celebrity platform”, in order to ensure a longer shelf life for himself after his playing days are over. Which might be sooner than expected. It was therefore natural for him to shift gears and join a league where the level of play is a few rungs lower than that found internationally. His dwindling skills will go a longer way in the U.S. The promise of a Hollywood career is an additional incentive.

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