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Beckham meeting on or off?
by Ridge Mahoney, February 19th, 2009 7:01AM



[MLS] Changing by the hour if not the minute, the David Beckham saga rolls, or lurches, on.

A proposed meeting between AC Milan sporting director Umberto Gandini and Galaxy officials, set for Thursday and then pushed back to next week, may be back on.

A U.S. source with extensive contacts in Italy says Gandini will travel to Los Angeles for a meeting with Galaxy officials on Friday. Regardless of when the meetings take place, the source offered yet another set of financial parameters. Milan's original offer, which the Galaxy rejected, was 5 million euros (about $7 million), and the source says Milan is prepared to go as high as 8 million euros (slightly more than $11 million) and not much higher.

If the Galaxy has indeed set the price at more like $20 million, as has been reported/guessed, no deal is likely. It certainly is considering factors such as its jersey sponsorship deal with Herbalife, which pays the club between $4 million and $5 million per year, and according to the Sports Business Journal, includes protections that the money due the Galaxy drops if the team doesn't field a prominent international player.

Other sponsorship and marketing deals are likely to have similar wording and might be specific to Beckham, so hurriedly getting a replacement wouldn't bail the team out of those arrangements. But looming on that horizon is an opt-out clause by which Beckham can leave unencumbered at the end of the MLS season.

If Landon Donovan returns to the team and doesn't meet the Herbalife benchmark, the Galaxy must either sign a star to replace Beckham or forfeit a big chunk of that windfall. For this reason, perhaps, rumors have run rampant that Ronaldinho or another Milan star is headed to Los Angeles in partial exchange for Beckham. No such suggestion has emanated from Milan, whose officials have steadfastly insisted they are offering money and other considerations, not players.

Just about anybody from a list of Paolo Maldini, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko, Clarence Seedorf or Filippo Inzaghi could suffice from the Galaxy's perspective, which has no real relevance anywhere outside of Home Depot Center.

Seedorf has been on the MLS radar screen before. He's a year younger than Beckham, and would dominate in midfield.

But he wouldn't sell many jerseys.

More likely is the scenario that Milan plays a friendly or two at the Galaxy's behest and pays something just into eight figures, which is still a substantial outlay for a player who turns 34 in early May.

The MLS-imposed and thereby meaningless of Feb. 13 has passed, and the loan is due to expire March 8.

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