For a team that always seems to be on the incoming side of exciting transfer rumors, it has been a harrowing few days for the LA Galaxy. David Beckham, Omar Gonzalez and Juninho have all been rumored to be heading elsewhere, and there's even that niggling problem of having yet to agree to terms with Sean Franklin. Just for good measure, Landon Donovan just agreed to a loan to Everton, and who knows what could happen there?
The most recent -- and highest profile -- gut-wrenching saga played out on Tuesday when for a few hours, at least, it seemed that Beckham had signed with Paris Saint-Germain. Two of Paris' biggest newspapers had front-page stories with lead headlines proclaiming that Beckham had inked an enormous contract with the newest toy of the Qatari Investment Fund.
Those reports were rubbished just a a little later when Beckham's agency, 19 Entertainment, issued this statement to the Associated Press: "No agreement has been reached with any club yet -- talks of a deal are premature. David has yet to make a final decision on his future."
Whether the reports of his signing were premature or not, all indications are that Beckham has been offered about $1 million a month to take his special brand of celebrity to Ligue 1. AEG and the power of the Hollywood lights being what they are, it's probably not impossible that Beckham decides to return to MLS, but that is seeming like an awful long shot right now.
Losing Beckham, though, would probably not be the end of the world for the Galaxy. The problem is that his departure could just be the first of several that could turn what was one of the greatest teams in MLS history last year into one that could be struggling to make the playoffs in the stacked Western Conference.
As big of a loss as Beckham would be -- and it would be significant on the field as well as off of it -- Juninho's would be even bigger. Reports out of Brazil are saying that Juninho has already signed a three-year deal with Brazil's Sao Paulo. Juninho had been on loan to the Galaxy for the past two years and would have required a transfer fee to remain there.
Juninho was one of the league's top central midfielders, displaying a wicked shot and a legitimate box-to-box game. Although the Galaxy just signed Marcelo Sarvas, but the 30-year-old has never been anywhere near as good as Juninho during his career and will invariably be a step down.
Just for good measure, Gonzalez's name has popped up in the rumor mill as well. The reigning MLS Defensive Player of the Year has reportedly drawn "major interest" from at least one English Premier League team. While getting a work permit for a player with just two United States national team caps would be problematic, the big center back has also been drawing interest from teams in Mexico.
The good news for the Galaxy is that Gonzalez, like Donovan, is under contract so would at least require a hefty transfer fee. Still, it's not that hard to imagine a world in which offers for Donovan and Gonzalez are too good to refuse.
Throw in the fact that Franklin is currently out of contract and you can see how the situation at Home Depot Center is starting to get a little frightening. Those five players accounted for 11,634 minutes, 24 goals and 24 assists last season. As much money as AEG may be willing to spend to fill those holes, there's just no way anyone should expect them replace that kind of production under almost any conditions, let alone the ones that MLS plays under.
As crazy as it may sound, the Galaxy could find themselves as the underdog in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup with Toronto FC in March. Even if -- and this is probably a best-case scenario -- the only losses are Beckham and Juninho, they will be attempting to beat a team that is dramatically improved over the first half of the 2011 season with a midfield that is missing its two biggest contributors from a minutes-played perspective.
It's far too early to declare this the end of what can reasonably be called a budding dynasty -- the Galaxy have won a MLS Cup, appeared in another MLS Cup final and won two Supporters' Shields in the past three years -- but this is clearly a time that is testing Galaxy fans' mettle. Let's not forget that as recently as 2008 the Galaxy finished tied for the fewest points in MLS. While a fall into those depths seems highly unlikely even in a worst-case scenario, this all serves as a reminder that fortunes can turn quickly in this league.