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David Beckham’s absence could open doors for Galaxy

On Soccer

David Beckham’s announcement Monday that he will not be fit to play again before November because of his left Achilles’ tendon injury could lead to some intriguing possibilities for the Galaxy and its owner, AEG.

First, Major League Soccer has to be convinced that Beckham’s likely unavailability for the entire 2010 season should allow the Galaxy to acquire another designated player in his absence. That scenario is quite possible.

If so, it would open the door for such stars as AC Milan’s Ronaldinho or Real Madrid’s Raul to come to Los Angeles this summer. They are the most high-profile and attractive of several possibilities.

Beckham was a teammate of Raul’s at Real Madrid between 2003 and 2007, and the 32-year-old Spanish striker, no longer a first choice at Real, has hinted that he might be interested in a move to MLS. He is Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer and has spent 16 seasons with Real Madrid.

Similarly, Ronaldinho and Beckham played together at AC Milan before Beckham’s injury in mid-March, while he was on his second loan spell with the Italian club. If the Brazilian star is not included on Brazil’s 2010 World Cup team, as appears likely, Ronaldinho, too, could be heading to MLS.

Ronaldinho, 30, has been mentioned by AEG in the past as a potential future Galaxy player not only because of his on-field ability but because his style and charisma make him a fan favorite. He has attracted massive crowds during summer tours of the U.S. with Barcelona and AC Milan.

The Galaxy could keep Beckham and either Raul or Ronaldinho in 2011 and still stay under the MLS salary cap if it sold Landon Donovan to Everton after the 2010 season. Donovan, who impressed during his loan spell this year with the English Premier League team, has said that he would not be averse to returning one day. The transfer fee he could fetch would be enough to allow the Galaxy to add Ronaldinho or Raul.

Beckham, who turns 35 on Sunday, is under contract to the Galaxy through 2011. Even if the Galaxy reaches the MLS playoffs this season, it is unlikely that he would play any role. He is also expected to return to AC Milan for a third season.

The English midfielder is still on crutches and said in an interview on the MLS website on Monday that he “won’t be running for another three months” at the earliest.

“This is an injury that is going to take time to heal,” Beckham said. “I’m only six weeks after the surgery. I started therapy 10 days ago, and I’m just doing that every day.

“I kind of want to push it, but with this kind of injury, you can’t, you just have to wait for it to heal and then move on.”

Beckham is scheduled to go to the World Cup in South Africa in June as an ambassador for England’s bid to stage the tournament in 2018 or 2022. He is expected to take part in the June 11 opening ceremony in Johannesburg.

Galaxy fans should be paying more attention to where Raul or Ronaldinho will be on that day.


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