Photo by Kevin Cardem/Fox Sports
BY ADAM SERRANO
LOS ANGELES –It is official, David Beckham will be returning to MLS and it appears that he may be staying for quite some time.
The Los Angeles Galaxy presented Beckham before a group of reporters on Thursday to announce his new two-year-deal with the club.
The 36-year-old Beckham returns to the Galaxy after enjoying a career year for Los Angeles in 2011 leading the Galaxy to the MLS Cup title. In addition to clinching the first MLS Cup since 2005, Beckham was awarded with the MLS Comeback Player of the Year as well as an MLS Best XI selection while helping the Galaxy to their second consecutive Supporters Shield.
After a year of speculation about his future, linking him to teams in London and Paris, Beckham admitted that it was his family, who came first when he ultimately made his decision.
“At this stage of my career, at this moment of my life, my family and my children are the most important thing to me,” Beckham said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon at Staples Center. “My children love living here and, at the end of the day, at 36 years old, to have the offers I had thrown at me, you have to look at it.”
The pivotal moment in Beckham's decision making came just less than three weeks ago, when Beckham sat down at his house in London for a glass wine with his wife Victoria.
"It was New Year's Eve when I sat down with my wife and my family and was kind of made up then," said Beckham. "Then obviously, I had been speaking to Bruce [Arena] and Tim [Leiweke] throughout because there was obviously a lot of speculation going on, but that was probably the time that I made up my mind and decided that we wanted to continue our lives in Los Angeles."
The Beckham's announcement to re-join the Galaxy comes amid months of speculation linking him to a variety of clubs, in particular, French giant Paris St. Germain. While reports in France indicated that Beckham's signing with PSG was a certainty, the owner's of the Galaxy never doubted that their star would return.
"Despite the speculation about him being signed or committed, we weren't a rebound, we were always in the middle of the conversation and we gave him all the time that he needed to make a decision," said AEG Tim Leiweke." "We're very grateful for what David has done for the last five years, but also for the upcoming year…We're grateful that David saw past the offers that were out there and will remain a core for the LA Galaxy."
Central to Beckham continuing his career with the Galaxy were two provisions. The first provision, allows Beckham the freedom to participate in the 2012 Olympic Games taking place in his hometown of London. At 36, Beckham is considered to be a forerunner for a spot on Stuart Pearce's Great Britain side that will compete during the Games.
The second provision of Beckham's deal to re-join the Galaxy was his option to become an owner in MLS after his career has finished. The accomplished English midfielder has long hinted at an interest in potentially joining the league as an owner and during Thursday's press conference, Leiweke admitted that this option was paramount to Beckham returning to Los Angeles.
"Part of this conversation was and is trying to sort through the fact that he has the right and he has made it very clear to us that he is going to exercise his option to be an owner in Major League Soccer," said Leiweke. "Unless I'm mistaken, that's his future when he makes his decision to retire and we and the partners in the league have structured that option in a way to will David to become a partner."
With his off the field business sorted, Beckham now faces a stiff test as the Galaxy seek to repeat as MLS Cup Champions. The Galaxy resume training on Monday with several pieces from the 2011 title missing as tenacious midfielder Juninho departed for Sao Paulo while MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez is out for seven-to-nine months with a torn ACL.
Although the Galaxy are set to compete in a number of competitions — including the CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup – Beckham believes that he is ready for the challenge ahead.
"I've never come back after a season with the Galaxy and been a champion," Beckham said. "I wanted to have that feeling. And we are (champions). But we're not finished. I'm not happy with one championship. I want more."