By rupturing his Achilles yesterday playing with AC Milan, David Beckham's World Cup dreams are over. This, in footballing terms is not that great of a blow to England, as the Guardian"s Rob Smyth dryly notes. But this is a big blow for MLS and to the LA Galaxy who have now likely lost Becks until the very end of the season and possibly for good, due to Beckham's age.
This is not only a blow to the team's ability to win, as Beckham despite his age, clearly offered quality to the side and played an important role in the Galaxy's run to the finals. But this is also a significant blow to the Galaxy's bottom line. Beckham could still put butts in the seats and create a lot of buzz in Tinsel town, as well as all over the country. When the Galaxy went on the road, every team saw significant boosts in attendance when Beckham played - although that impact declined last year. The league is still losing its most marketable player and noteworthy player.
But this also raises the question: Does Beckham's injury make selling Landon Donovan after the World Cup less likely? The Galaxy, a fairly big spending club for MLS, would surely not want to lose their two best players and most marketable players even for a decent profit. Additionally, the league, which owns Donovan's contract under the single ownership structure, will likely be more hesitant to sell, as it will mean losing their two most notable players.
Therefore, one has to think that Donovan's possible return to Everton, although much talked about, is now very unlikely. Everton was always going to have a hard time meeting MLS' valuation of Donovan, which was likely around 10 million dollars. This is not an unreasonable sum, but Donovan is 28, meaning he will have just a few years until he starts to decline and he will have little resale value. For a fairly frugal club like Everton that price would seem like a stretch.
With Donovan's excellent play in the Premier League and now with Beckham's injury, Donovan's price just went up significantly. My guess is the league will now be hesitant to sell him unless an offer comes in that knocks their socks off. This will require a big spending club, such as Chelsea (which is rumored to be interested), to make an offer.
There is however, another big mystery - does Landon have an out clause in his new contract? Donovan penned a new deal with the Galaxy before leaving for Everton in January. This struck left many scratching their heads, as it would seemingly make Donovan beholden to the whims of the MLS front office, which has been notoriously reluctant to sell American talent oversees. However, there has been much speculation that this deal had an out-clause for Donovan. In other words, if a club wanted to buy him in the summer and hit a certain price point, Donovan could then make the decision to stay or go. Therefore by signing a new contract, Donovan was able to give himself some job security and a higher salary if things didn't work out in Europe. But if things went well he could still leave, as teams would be willing to pay what it takes. MLS for their part, also saw this as a win-win. MLS locked down the best player the US has ever produced, unless of course a very sizeable offer came in for Donovan. This meant the league would avoid getting into a fight with Donovan over potential summer offers. In other words, the league wanted to avoid a situation in which a European club offers a low-ball offer, an offer Donovan is keen to have the league accept. A public spat would be bad pr.
If there is an out-clause in Donovan's contract, MLS could be set to lose their two best players.