LOS ANGELES David Beckham has been helping L.A. Galaxy find the man who can replace him after he leaves the Major League Soccer club - as the team aims to widen their appeal to California's large Hispanic community.
Tim Leiweke, president of Galaxy's owners AEG, says the club have targeted a player who is currently under contract with a top European side but has indicated he would like to move to MLS and has spoken to Beckham, who will leave Galaxy after Saturday's MLS Cup final.
"The guy who introduced us to this player is David Beckham. David has done the yeoman's work on our behalf at introducing us, getting him comfortable, getting his family comfortable, talking about L.A. and the organization," Leiweke said, in a podcast for Galaxy's official website.
Leiweke did not name the player but his comments will fuel speculation that Brazilian Kaka, who plays for Beckham's former club Real Madrid, could be the target.
Earlier this month former World Player of the Year, Kaka, who is 30, said, after playing for Brazil against Colombia in New Jersey, that he would like to play in MLS in the future.
While such comments are frequently made, and Real winger Cristiano Ronaldo is among the others who have also talked of such a future, suggestions of a Kaka move to the Galaxy have circulated since he began to fall out of favour at Real.
"I think if you sit down and realistically look at the headlines and what has been said out there in the last few months, I think we all know who I am talking about," said Leiweke.
"But he is under contract to a team in Europe and as long as he is under contract we are not going to tamper.
"That said, I believe, that people ought to understand that when one of the better players in the world says 'I'd like to play in Major League Soccer' he means it and that was not lost on us and it is a player we have been talking to for years. So this is not a new adventure," he said.
Beckham's involvement in the attempted deal for whoever Galaxy may be targeting is another fascinating aspect of the former England midfielder's future plans.
The 37-year-old has said he intends to have one more playing challenge after leaving Galaxy but will then return to the U.S. to play an ownership role although he has not indicated where that involvement would be or what form his role would take.
Beckham has an option to take an ownership share in a future expansion team in MLS but Leiweke suggested his involvement will be with the Galaxy.
"David is going to continue to be a part of this organization going forward because there is no-one better to go out and get some of the best players in the world to come here than David," he said.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber also noted that the Galaxy were keen to keep Beckham involved at their club.
"I have heard that Tim Leiweke said that he would be interested to talk to David about how he might be involved in the Galaxy, this is all very real-time," he said.
At his news conference on Thursday, Beckham mentioned a future role, in some form, as a recruiter of talent for MLS.
"Just because I'm not playing here anymore after the weekend, my commitment stays the same. And I will do anything to keep these players coming over like Robbie Keane, like Thierry Henry, and anything I can do on that side of things I want to do," he said.
Asked what he would say to try to tempt a top player to come to MLS, Beckham said: "My pitch is simple: if you want to be a part of something that is going to be big... when Tim Leiweke came to me six years ago in my house, that's exactly what he said to me. He said 'soccer's not one of the biggest sports in the U.S., but one day it will be.' And I believed him."
(Editing by Alison Wildey)
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