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Beckham will be booed, says Lalas

By Matt Slater

Alexi Lalas and David Beckham
Lalas was integral to the Galaxy's surprise move for Beckham in 2007

David Beckham can expect a rude welcome from LA Galaxy fans when he returns to the US, says the man who signed him.

Former Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas brokered the $250m deal that brought the England star to Major League Soccer in January 2007.

But little more than two years later Beckham has dipped into his own pocket to extend his loan spell with AC Milan, a move that has hugely upset US fans.

"He'll get booed and it's of his own making," Lalas told BBC Sport.

"If he comes back this summer, as has been reported, I'm sure he'll do everything he can to help the team on the field.

"But I'm also sure there is something to be said for having players on your team who want to be there. I don't think that's too much to ask."

He'll take some of the heat when he does come back, some of it deserved, some of it probably not

Alexi Lalas on David Beckham
The 33-year-old Beckham is scheduled to return to LA in mid-July after taking a month's holiday following the end of the Italian season.

This means he will miss the first half of the MLS season and only be available for six home games in 2009 - not what Galaxy had in mind when they agreed to let Beckham go to Milan on what was supposed to be a three-month loan in January.

But Beckham's determination to cement his place in England manager Fabio Capello's plans for the 2010 Fifa World Cup finals, and his belief that this could only be done by playing top-level football in Serie A, forced the US outfit into a corner.

Matters came to a head earlier this week when, with the deadline for his original return date looming, an unprecedented "timeshare" agreement was announced between AC Milan and the Galaxy.

The fact that Beckham was partially funding this unique deal himself left nobody in any doubt just how badly he wanted to stay in Italy - a far cry from the lofty ambitions to "break" soccer in America that he voiced back in 2007.

Those words and subsequent statements about his continued commitment to the Galaxy and the MLS, including his intention to buy a US team in the future, have been given short shrift by angry fans on internet message boards. The Galaxy's fans forum is almost unanimous in its opposition to Beckham.

David Beckham
Beckham has turned back the clock in Milan with some impressive displays
But this is hardly surprising given the club's disastrous form since his arrival - form that cost Lalas his job in August - or the fact that Beckham earns $6.5m a season, over twice as much as the next best-paid player and over 43 times the league average.

Lalas, 38, understands the Englishman's desire to play in what will be his fourth World Cup but is sympathetic to the frustrations of the supporters.

"I don't begrudge him the opportunity to play in a World Cup and if he feels this is the most direct path to get to it, fine, I know what it means to represent your country," said Lalas, who was capped 96 times by the US in a career that included a two-year stint in Italy.

"But as long as he understands there are ramifications to these decisions.

"What it comes down to is that the Galaxy fans don't care if David Beckham plays for them or not. All they want is a winning team, that's what they're used to.

"And they have recognised that this craziness (surrounding Beckham's future) is detrimental to getting back to where the Galaxy needs to be.

"So he'll take some of the heat when he does come back, some of it deserved, some of it probably not. But this is sport and I'm sure he won't lose any sleep over it.

606: DEBATE
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"Galaxy fans are a very knowledgeable and they recognise there has been good and bad in David coming to the team, but they just want a good team and the current situation is not ideal, to say the least."

Lalas, however, is convinced that the gamble to bring Beckham, who has just tied World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore's record for outfield appearances for England, to America was worth it.

"Anybody who says that the signing of David Beckham has been failure is delusional and is not seeing the bigger picture," he said.

"His impact in terms of giving the Galaxy and the MLS a platform from which to spring to the next level cannot be overstated. He has brought incredible recognition and credibility to the league."

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see also
Beckham's American dream
06 Mar 09 |  Football
How Beckham conquered Milan
14 Feb 09 |  Europe
Concerned Galaxy to rest Beckham
25 Aug 07 |  Football
Beckham agrees to LA Galaxy move
12 Jan 07 |  Football


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