With David Beckham’s final game for the LA Galaxy coming up this weekend and his plans to move to a different club set to come to fruition, hype of a possible move to Australia is consolidating into a real push to bring him down under. Melbourne Heart is the club leading the pack at the moment, while Perth Glory and the Central Coast Mariners are also putting together official offers.
However if anyone is going to attract Beckham to the A-League, which is looking increasingly unlikely after it was FFA boss David Gallop who first ignited talk of Beckham leaving the MLS, it will probably be the Heart. The Melbourne side, according to local paper Herald Sun, have tabled a A$1.7m bid to Beckham’s representatives to play out the rest of the 2012-13 season at AAMI Park. The Heart, formed as an expansion club whose debut season was only two years ago, have also offered an alternative one and a half year deal to Beckham worth $5.5m.
The A-League clubs chasing the former England international have probably been spurned on by Sydney FC’s successful capture of Alessandro Del Piero, Newcastle Jets signing of Emile Heskey and the Western Sydney Wanderers bringing in Shinji Ono at the beginning of the season.
Well, that’s the angle most of the Australian media and even Football Federation Australia have taken. That it is to those three ‘marquee’ players, usually mentioned together as a group of three, credit for the increased crowd numbers, international attention towards the A-League and all the good perks that arrived with them from Italy, England and Japan respectively.
Alessandro Del Piero was and still is an extremely talented player, one of Italy’s greatest ever and undeniably the best player to ever grace the A-League. Emile Heskey was a significant player in the world’s biggest domestic sporting competition for a decade, as well gaining a significant number of caps for England at the highest level. Shinji Ono is a Japanese midfielder who made 29 appearances in the Bundesliga without scoring a goal.
Why is he constantly mentioned in the same group as Del Piero and Heskey?
Ono has been a success in Australia, he’s is a playmaker with a good touch and dead ball ability. But he’s not really the type of player the A-League should have as one of their iconic marquee players.
David Beckham is probably the third best option for any club in leagues such as the A-League of Major League Soccer as a marquee or designated player right now behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously there are hundreds of better players, but none of them quite carry the same commercial attraction, ‘Brand Xavi’ doesn’t quite hit the same tune.
Beckham would be the biggest star to ever play in the A-League, although Del Piero could probably still pip him for ability. He would surely make up the group of three star players used to market the round ball game in Australia.
Ono is not on the same level though, not many people had actually heard of him before he came south, let alone being the biggest sporting name on the planet. Including him in the current group of three devalues the league when there is no reason to include him, having two would be just as effective.
The Japanese player is the type of player the A-League wants to bring in as a decent import, not one as one of the leagues absolute star players. Surely they want to raise the bar higher if they want to aspire to being an internationally respected competition.
The signing of David Beckham would help achieve these goals, but the ripple effect of his presence would need to be capatalised on. The FFA know that they cannot let the competition become a retirement village for star players whose careers are on life support looking for a final payday. And certainly not Shinji Ono.
Players like Paul Ifill, Thomas Broich and Marcos Flores aren’t lauded along with the likes of Del Piero and Heskey, but they are certainly as good as Ono and arrived with similar credentials. They are the type of players that should be consistently brought in to improve the league, but not under the ‘marquee’ tag. Just as good players reflecting an increasingly good league.