David Beckham will not join PSG
LOS ANGELES -- David Beckham's proposed move to Paris Saint-Germain is dead after the French club's president on Tuesday told media in Qatar that the English superstar would be returning to the Galaxy, but the president of L.A.'s ownership group says nothing has been finalized.
PSG acknowledged its pursuit of Beckham, to whom it had offered a reported 18-month, $18.7 million contract, had been unsuccessful after weeks of negotiations broke off, apparently for family reasons.
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"David Beckham is not coming," PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi said at the Qatar Open tennis tournament in Doha. "We feel a little disappointed. But both sides agreed it would be better that we not do the deal. ... Maybe in the future."
Beckham, whose five-year, $32.5 million contract with the Galaxy expired on New Year's Eve, had also been approached by clubs in England, Italy, Brazil and the Middle East. PSG, which has spent more than $100 million on players since the quasi-governmental Qatar Investment Authority purchased 70 percent of the club last May, appeared to have the most traction until the past week.
French newspapers Le Parisien and L'Equipe reported last week that Beckham, who will be 37 in May, had agreed to terms with PSG, but Leonardo, the club's sporting director, acknowledged Friday that Beckham might not be coming because it would mean uprooting his family from its home in Beverly Hills.
"We never said it was a done deal ...," Leonardo, who coached Beckham during his 2010 loan spell at AC Milan, said at a press conference introducing former Milan/Juventus/Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti as PSG's new coach. "It's always been a question of personal matters."
On Tuesday, Al-Khelaifi acknowledged that Beckham was with the Galaxy, "and he's going to stay there."
Not so fast, says Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, the Galaxy's owners.
"It's not done yet," he told ESPN Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. "Just as much as when (French and British reports said) going to Paris was a done deal, and we told everyone to relax, take a break, you're wrong, we're saying, 'Relax, take a break, you're wrong.' We're not done with David. ... I'm very confident David will be back, but we're not there yet."
While the final framework of a deal is still being negotiated, sources close to the process told ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Galaxy's willingness to accommodate Beckham if he were selected to play for England in the Olympic Games in London this summer, is an important factor for Beckham, who was a key pitchman for Britain's bid.
Beckham, who has had a massive impact in marketing Major League Soccer around the globe and making America's top league an attractive destination for top players, played a pivotal role in the Galaxy's run last season to a second successive Supporters' Shield, as MLS's regular-season champion, and the club's third MLS Cup title.
Leiweke said the Galaxy have offered Beckham a one-year contract that "contemplates an additional year if both sides feel that's the right thing."
Reports from within the Beckham camp claim the Galaxy improved its initial offer as it became clear he was leaning toward a Paris move.
"I don't think it was a matter of 'amplifying' the offer," Leiweke said. "The PSG offer has been pretty well documented, and it's pretty amazing. We'll clearly never be in that league -- we get it. That said, we have certainly in the last three weeks spent more time trying to make sure that he understands how much we'd like him to return to the Galaxy."
Beckham has not been offered an executive position within AEG following his playing career, as was reported last month in Europe and the U.S., Leiweke said. As part of his initial contract with the Galaxy and MLS, Beckham may purchase the rights to an expansion franchise when he's done playing in the league; an AEG position, Leiweke noted, would create a conflict.
Beckham's management last week said there were multiple options remaining, and Leiweke said it was possible he could chose to sign with an English Premier League club -- London clubs Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers have been public about their interest -- or change his mind about PSG.
"I think if David wants to go to Paris, it's his decision," Leiweke said. "Their offer is absolutely still there. I think the rerason we're hearing suddenly comments from them that David is not coming, it's not because they've changed their mind. They just feel he's leaning to returning to Los Angeles.
"With all the media reports and everything, I think they're managing expectations. And I would be, too" in a similar situation.
The Galaxy's push to re-sign Beckham has emphasized that it's in his and his family's "best interests" to stay in Los Angeles.
"Victoria and David have a comfort level with the city, a comfort level with Bruce (Arena) as our coach and with the Galaxy and MLS," he said. "He has a high degree of comfort with AEG. We're close. They know what to expect here. ...
"I've always told David in the course of the conversation: 'We're the sure thing. You know what's going to happen here.'"
Beckham said recently: "I'm very proud of the time that I've spent with the Galaxy and it might continue."
The Galaxy's recent success and the signing of Ireland captain Robbie Keane have shown Beckham that the LA club can meet his ambitions for the final years of his career, which began at Manchester United.
The new MLS season starts in March.
Scott French covers the MLS for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne and The Associated Press was used in this report.