Friday, 24 November 2006

Tick... tock...

Ticking TimebombThe British press (Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Independent) all echo the report in Spanish sports weekly Don Balón which quotes an unnamed Real Madrid board member as saying "Capello prefers a different type of player and we would all be relieved if Beckham, on his own initiative, said he had decided to leave to play in the MLS. That way nobody could blame Calderón for getting rid of an icon such as David Beckham. What Calderón said two months ago and what he wants now are two very different things. We cannot admit this publicly, but the best for both parties would be for Beckham to leave. Capello doesn't want him and the player himself cannot carry on spending so much time on the bench, because he would lose some of his multi-million marketing contracts. It is not good for Real Madrid to have such a famous player as Beckham on the bench, like a ticking timebomb".

The club, as is normal in these cases, has decided not to comment on quotes from an unnamed source. The player's spokesman said last night "We are dubious about comments made by an unnamed member of the board. If it is true, it goes against everything Capello, Ramón Calderón and Pedrag Mijatovic have been saying to us and to the world's media, that they want him to stay. Talks are ongoing and positive and we expect another meeting very soon.".

One can only speculate about the reasons behind this "leak" to the press. Taken at face value, it could be that the club really does think Beckham is not the money-making machine he once was, and if he doesn't feature in the manager's schemes, what is the point in keeping him? However, one only has to look at the change in fortunes for Helguera and Robinho in the squad to see that what Capello wants and needs today is not what he might want and need tomorrow. It could just be Fabio's way of keeping uppity players on their toes.

On the other hand, it might be a ploy to put pressure on the player to decide on his future sooner rather than later. After all, if he wants to leave, Real can still make some money by offloading him in the January transfer window. And if he decides to stay, it could be for a reduced salary, or one tied to results or appearances.

I'm sticking to my prediction that Beckham will sign on for a further two years, but it's looking shakier by the minute (which is why I'm not a betting man).

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