Where in the world?

Times Staff Writer

David Beckham will play in the United States next year. David Beckham will remain in Spain next year. David Beckham will play in Scotland next year. David Beckham will play in Italy next year. David Beckham will return to England next year to play for either Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Manchester City, West Ham or Tottenham.

David Beckham won't play anywhere next year but will become a doddering househusband and painter. David Beckham will play in Israel next year.

No, wait, David Beckham pretty much ruled out Israel but hasn't ruled out Kazakhstan. There's still time. He did rule out buying part of the Galaxy and becoming an actor.

It's still a heap of relocation speculation for a 31-year-old backup midfielder who's still a maestro only when the ball's still, but then, one backup in Real Madrid's midfield still might lead all earthlings in speculation generation. Factor in his wife, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham -- who just house-shopped in Beverly Hills and may or may not have bought Audrey Hepburn's black Givenchy "Breakfast at Tiffany's" dress for $900,000 at auction -- and you have global media speculation that probably trumps even Clintons and Cruises who, after all, lack free-kick acumen.

In fact, there's so much Beckham speculation that even Beckham's look-alike spawns speculation. A website speculated this week as to whether the look-alike in the 2007 Celebrity Hunks Around the House Calendar, which features a Brad Pitt look-alike, a Prince William look-alike, and a Beckham look-alike cleaning a mirror, getting a mop out and chopping vegetables, is the same look-alike the Beckhams used in August, when David and Victoria doppelgangers turned up at the Superdrug on Oxford Street to promote the new Beckham fragrance, Intimately Beckham.

That look-alike reportedly was the same look-alike who became the subject of a TV documentary and attracted a ruckus on a trip to Japan. While the look-alike once had a tryout with Tottenham, the actual Beckham once starred for Manchester United and England's national team, whose captaincy he relinquished in July and whose new coach, Steve McClaren, left him off the squad in September.

Just the other day on the Sky Network, McClaren rated 26-year-old England team member Steven Gerrard a Beckham equal in the Beckham provinces of crosses and set-pieces. As for Beckham, "it's a case of the door is always open and you never know."

Even so, Beckham speculation flares again this month approaching the "transfer window," a term crucial to European existence and comprehended utterly by throngs of European schoolchildren (if not by foreign interlopers). The twice-yearly "transfer window" returns Jan. 1 and lasts a month. It's a time when European players can negotiate and relocate while onlookers can speculate.

In Beckham's case, the window seems stained glass. It looks good, but you can't see through it -- especially when clubs sometimes stir speculations to enhance their own reputations.

He's going to the U.S.

It makes sense. Europeans give U.S. soccer the patronizing pat on the head and dub it the perfect place for career twilight. Major League Soccer wiggled its salary rules for incoming star-shine. The Galaxy expressed interest. There's that Beckham soccer academy. And Victoria got a look at the house with the "stunning double-infinity-edged pool that leaves it looking as if it is hanging in space," according to MSN.

Snickered the Times of London: "The chatter from the West Coast is that they are more excited than ever about a superstar signing. And you have to assume that they do not mean the recent trade for Joe Cannon from the Colorado Rapids."

He's staying in Spain.

Relegated to the bench by Real Madrid Coach Fabio Capello, Beckham emerged at halftime Sunday night in Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. Thereafter he called himself "happy to have got a full half in," lauded the club's second-half passing and team spirit, and fielded a question about the United States. "The world's press are always talking, but I am happy at Real Madrid and I am not thinking about me going to the United States," Beckham told reporters.

He's going to Scotland.

A website for the leading club Celtic, noticing somehow that "speculation continues that he is set for a move to Celtic," spotted the Sunday quote and speculated, "It's worth noting that he only ruled out a move to the United States, and not a move in general."

He's returning to England.

Occasionally, you can find people quibbling slightly over whether autumn speculation has linked him to six clubs, seven clubs, eight clubs or nine clubs.

He's going to Italy.

Just this week, an Italian agent generated a gaggle of news stories when he stated he'd help get Beckham to Inter Milan for a hefty salary but, more important, for the 100% control of image rights. That evidently spawned chatter on an Italian soccer TV show, in which the pundits belittled the idea plus Beckham's slowness, oldness and obsession with his hair.

That in turn prompted Sheridan Bird, in a hilarious columnist for football365.com, to belittle Italian midfielders as having "the speed of a tortoise which has been locked in a room full of Massive Attack fans and their 'specialised' smoking equipment." He added, "The last place the pundits can sneer at others for spending too long grooming themselves has to be Italia."

Maybe he'll just paint.

Websites from Switzerland, Austria and India got around to a Beckham quotation in which he said he might have been an artist if not a footballer. Said the speculation cyclone they call Becks: "Me and Victoria really like art."



A week with the Beckhams

A selection of headlines from the last week in the Beckham universe:

David Beckham Worth $171 Million

BBC Sports pegs the midfielder's estimated wealth at 87 million pounds; Michael Owen is second among British soccer players at 32 million pounds.


Real Madrid's Beckham not seeking to buy Galaxy

He might like the idea of playing in Southern California, but not enough to buy the company.


Posh goes house hunting in TomKat's neighbourhood

Mrs. Beckham was recently spotted taking a tour of a mansion only five doors away from another couple that tends to spark media frenzies.


Allen gives Beckham the boot

Rising pop star Lily Allen insists Beckham has no chance with her -- and says she would only consider sleeping with him if someone paid her 1 million pounds. That's not to suggest that Beckham has expressed any interest.


Gerrard fills Beckham's boots

England manager Steve McClaren brands Liverpool's Steven Gerrard as one of the world's best at crosses, i.e., that which Beckham does best. And those grapes were probably sour, anyway.


Source: google.com

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