Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has revealed that David Beckham “had a difficult time” when starting his journey as owner of an MLS franchise. Beckham joined LA Galaxy in a high-profile transfer from Real Madrid back in 2007, with the then 31-year-old English legend one of the most sought-after names in football.
Intriguingly, Beckham’s MLS contract included a unique clause where he would be able to buy an MLS expansion club for £20m ($25m) in the future. It proved to be a masterstroke, as the Beckham brand worked wonders for the popularity of the American league.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Garber revealed that the Inter Miami owner met some hurdles when activating the clause.
The MLS chief admitted: “Beckham had to play in the league for five years and, at the time he came in, Toronto bought [the 13th MLS expansion spot] for $10m. And we basically said if you stay in the league long enough, and we have 20 teams in five years, and you have to play for that period of time, we’ll give you an option for $25m.
“And by the way, [the expansion team] can’t be in New York. You’ve got to pick a team, you’ve got to build a stadium. I would tell you the likelihood that that would have happened if you were a betting person would be pretty damn close to zero.
“And it happened. And we had our team in New York and David had a struggle, a difficult time, because we stuck to our guns, we said you have to have a stadium.
“It wasn’t quite the $25m, there were a lot of things that happened where he had to ultimately put together a whole lot more, get an ownership group.
“So to me, that deal worked out very well for him, it worked out very well for Major League Soccer. He’s got a great partner, who hopefully will be connected to the international community.”
From Beckham to Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, the MLS has signed its share of footballing legends.
And the potential arrival of Lionel Messi would be something else again, with Garber highlighting just how difficult it would be to facilitate the arrival of the World Cup-winning Argentinian superstar. However, he also says “never say never”.
Praising the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Garber suggested he can go creative, much like he did with Beckham, to entice Messi over to the States.
He added: “So when there are rumours of him connected to Miami, that’s great. And if it could happen, it would be terrific for MLS, it would be terrific for Messi and his family, and like everything with us, we try to run every opportunity down. I can’t give any more details than that because we don’t have them.”
Messi has long been linked with a move to Beckham’s Inter Miami. With manager Phil Neville even admitting as much last month, as well as wanting to sign his former team-mate, Sergio Busquets.
Speaking to The Times, Neville said: “I’m not going to deny [it and say] there isn’t truth in the speculation that we’re interested in Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets.
“We want to bring the best players in the world to this football club. Messi and Busquets are the two that stand out more in recent years. They’re great players who would still be a massive benefit to this organisation. For MLS, it would be a game-changer.”
Messi is still showing signs of brilliance in France for Paris Saint-Germain. He has scored 12 goals and 12 assists in 20 league games for the capital club.
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