Many column inches have been devoted to the supposed meeting between Freddie Shephard and the Beckhams this week, Newcastle tight-lipped whilst Beckham’s mouthpiece denies it took place. However, this morning’s press seems devoted to questioning why Arsenal are not interested in signing him, something the club have not made comment on. There are two aspects to signing Beckham, commercial and football.
Commercially there is little doubt that the club would benefit from having him in their playing ranks. He would ensure that The Emirates would have the “Sold Out” signs up every week. He would also raise the profile of Arsenal in the Far East and US markets, places where they have never made overt attempts to market themselves to the same extent as Chelsea, Juve, United, Real and now Barcelona. Whatever his transfer fee, the money men could pretty much guarantee that over the course of a four year contract that the club would make their money back and more. And with him comes the attendant publicity, each photo would be captioned “Arsenal star” before his name, brand profile getting raised for free.
From a footballing perspective, more questions than answers at this stage. Beckham is not a typical Wenger player; he is not young, he is not pacey and he is English! However, having spent all of his career at two of the biggest clubs, he is unlikely to suffer from stage fright or take much time to settle in. Whilst he does not have pace, at club level he has good positional awareness. It is well documented that his record of assists in La Liga is second to none. Certainly, he would free up Henry to be a recipient of dead ball situations rather than the deliverer. However, the style of Arsenal’s play does not necessarily lend itself to crosses into the box, unless of course another centre forward is being thrown into the mix. I suspect that the lack of pace would be the main reason why Wenger would not sign him. Quite simply a pass to the right could well slow down the pace of counter – attacks and Beckham does not possess sufficient defensive nous to play centrally, as has been proven at club and international level.
In addition, the clubs policy of not offering long-term contracts to players over 30 years of age would be thrown into disarray. Whilst rules are there to be broken, and if you make them, they are there at your whim. However, as players such as Ljungberg approach that age, it will be mentioned in more than passing about the length and size of the Beckham deal in contract negotiations.
For the player himself, I do not doubt that it would be a good move. Wenger has a reputation for bringing the best out of older players and also of extending their careers. Arsenal are a high profile club with a brand, spanking new stadium in which to play Champions League football. And they are close to his English base. On balance though, I would be amazed if he was a genuine transfer target and not a little shocked and stunned to learn of his signing were it to happen