Latest update: 01/12/2012
- David Beckham - football - France - Monaco
French club Monaco bid to lure Beckham to Riviera
French club AS Monaco are expected to meet David Beckham for talks this weekend in a bid to tempt the former Real Madrid and Manchester United player to end his glittering football career with the French second-division side.
By FRANCE 24 (text)
A fallen giant of French football appears to be leading the race to sign superstar David Beckham despite competition from clubs across the globe.
Although Beckham has reportedly had a host of offers from clubs in England, China and Australia it appears AS Monaco, who play in front of an average crowd of just 4,600 in France’s second division, are in a strong position to sign the 37-year-old.
Representatives of the Ligue 2 leaders are expected to begin talks with Beckham on Saturday that, if successful, would see the former Real Madrid “Galactico” end his illustrious playing career on the French Riviera.
Monaco, who are desperate to return to the top flight, confirmed earlier this week they were interested in signing the former Manchester United player, who won 115 caps for England.
The team’s manager Claudio Ranieri upped the club’s charm offensive on Friday saying he would be “happy” if the “fantastic” Beckham could join his squad.
“He is an intelligent, fantastic player with a good personality. He is also a champion," said former Chelsea boss Ranieri.
"I want to win, my team also. The more champions who come to this club, the greater chances we have of winning."
“We are an ambitious club”
Beckham plays his final game for his current club LA Galaxy in America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) against Houston Dynamo on Saturday, after which, he is expected to sit down with Monaco officials to hear their proposal.
Even though he is in the twilight of his career, signing Beckham would prove a major coup for Monaco, who were relegated to the second tier in 2011, just seven years after defying the odds to reach the Champions League final.
Normally a second division French club could only dream of being able to afford a player like Beckham, but with Monaco under the ownership of billionaire Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev finding the funds to meet Beckham’s salary demands should not be an issue.
"There is obviously a lot of interest from clubs around the world in such an illustrious player. We're an ambitious club and when a player of this stature becomes available, it's normal that we are on the alert," Monaco’s chief executive Tor-Kristian Karlsen told French daily L’Equipe.
Monaco’s fans, who the club hope would snap up replica Beckham shirts, appear slightly less enthusiastic about the prospect of the player coming to the principality.
“I am a little sceptical given the fact he is 37 years-old.” AS Monaco supporter Christian told Le Parisien newspaper on Friday. “It will be good from a marketing point of view because he will attract people here. But I think we have the players we need. We have some good youngsters here.”
“One more challenge”
Whether Beckham himself can be persuaded to come to France is another question. He admitted to have only heard of Monaco’s interest this week after being told by a friend.
After having turned down an eye-watering offer to play for high flyers Paris Saint-Germain only a few months ago for family reasons, it would appear a strange decision if Beckham now chose to move to second-division Monaco.
The player has spoken of a desire to take on one more challenge. But will playing in front of a couple of thousand people in small French towns like Sedan, Guingamp and Tours be the fitting end to the glittering career that Beckham seeks?
For most in the French and British sports media the answer is an unequivocal no. In their view a Beckham move to Monaco would be motivated more by the desire for one final pay packet than one last hurrah.
But Beckham, who has a net worth of $260 million dollars according to Forbes, has denied any move to the tax haven would be motivated by money.
"My career has never been about money," Beckham told the British media on Friday. “I'm not money-motivated, I just want to play for the best team and with the best players. I know I will miss it when I finish playing."
Beckham has spoken of a desire to play for a final time in the Champions League, which unless Monaco enjoy a meteoric rise back to the top, would appear to rule him out of a move to the Côte d’Azur.
Beckham’s celebrity wife Victoria, a model, fashion designer, part time singer and mother of his four children, could have the final say in where her husband ends up.
There’s no doubt the French Riviera, known as the billionaires playground’, would appeal to her lifestyle where her husband’s salary should give the confessed shopaholic a decent budget to help her make the most of the principality’s designer boutiques.
House hunting should also not be a problem given the fact the Beckhams already have a 30 hectare property near St Tropez, a short drive along the coast from Monaco.
And if Victoria prefers to take the family back to London, Beckham would not be short of friends in the area.
If he gets lonely he can always pop down the coast to see his great friend Jonny Wilkinson, who is plying his trade at French rugby club Toulon.