Photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com
By ADAM SERRANO
The Los Angeles Galaxy may have won MLS Cup, but there is no rest for the defending champions. Not with David Beckham being heavily sought after by Qatari-owned Paris St. Germain and numerous key players out of contract as yet another busy schedule looms in 2012.
Although the Galaxy officially added Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas from Alajuelense on Tuesday, the club still faces a number of personnel decisions.
Beckham remains the biggest prize, as the out-of-contract midfielder enjoyed his finest season in MLS in 2011. Despite reports from French daily L'Equipe that PSG's fervent pursuit of Beckham was "95 percent complete", head coach Bruce Arena asserted that the Galaxy are still in the running for the Englishman's signature.
"I can tell you that as of today, it's certainly not a done deal," Arena said in a teleconference on Monday. "I think the Galaxy are very much interested in bringing David back. Again, it will be David's decision, but we're keenly interested in keeping the player here."
Beckham is not the only player that the Galaxy are seeking to retain, as Brazilian midfielder Juninho and defender Sean Franklin remain question marks for next season. Juninho's situation is the most complex, as the Brazilian's loan from Sao Paulo expires at year's end, and the Galaxy have stated that keeping the tenacious Brazilian midfielder is a top priority.
However, in order to retain Juninho, the Galaxy must pay a transfer fee to Sao Paulo, who are believed to be seeking a significant sum in return. On Monday, Arena said that the Galaxy issued an offer to Juninho to keep him in Los Angeles indefinitely.
"Juninho has an offer, he knows where we stand," Arena said. "[Sao Paulo] knows that, his agent knows that. They just have to make a decision as to what they want to do."
Meanwhile, Franklin remains out of contract after a stellar season that saw him earn his first MLS All-Star appearance. Although Franklin has been primarily a right back throughout his four year tenure in MLS, Arena believes that the 26-year-old may be better suited for the right midfield going forward.
During the teleconference, Arena admitted that the Galaxy have offered a contract to Franklin, but whether or not he returns, is strictly his decision.
"It's his prerogative whether to accept the offer or not," said Arena. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, and we have to move on. Hopefully, we can get something done this week."
The returns of Franklin, Juninho and Beckham may be uncertain, but with yet another full schedule on tap in 2012, the Galaxy set about stockpiling depth in the second stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Monday. Los Angeles made six selections during the draft, selecting defenders Andy Boyens, Chris Leitch, midfielder Pat Noonan and goalkeeper Jon Conway. The club also retained the rights to defenders Dasan Robinson and Frankie Hejduk.
The club has seven days to tender contract offers to the players, but it will retain their MLS rights if agreements can not be reached. All six players are league veterans who can provide depth that will be vital to competing on a number of fronts.
The Galaxy face a daunting minimum of 43 games next year due to CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup and league commitments. Should Los Angeles advance in the three competitions, as many as 10 extra games could be added to the docket.
"What we were able to do is select players in some positions we believe we need cover for," Arena said. "They're all veteran players, they have experience, and they're good players for the locker room. At the end of the day, if we get some of them or all of them, they'll all be a positive asset for our team."