Becchio: A Player That Money Just Can’t Buy

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham…scan through the paucity of treasured Leeds United memories and isolated iconic moments from recent years and the FA Cup features prominently; in fact, the Bristol Rovers promotion party apart, just about every commonly replayed moment from the last decade is based in some form of knock-out competition.

In the FA Cup we think back to 2010, to Beckford slipping the ball past Kuszczak at Old Trafford, then his brace at White Hart Lane to force a replay. Back in Leeds, Spurs were comfortable winners, but we still had that glorious Becchio equaliser to make us believe. Move on a year to The Emirates and we have that Snodgrass penalty that got us within minutes of another famous victory, in the return tie, another stadium shaking equaliser, a left footed long range effort that Bradley Johnson could never even hope of replicating ever again.

Spurs, last time out...

Spurs, last time out…

Move away from the FA Cup and there’s the play-offs – does anyone not remember exactly where they were when Howson’s last gasp second goal at spared us extra time at Brunton Park? Does anyone’s ears still not ring at the very mention of that glorious moment when Ben Parker and Luciano Becchio combined with poetic synergy and Wembley, promotion and the second coming seemed inevitable?

Finally we come to the moment of our recent history: May 8th, 2010 – Elland Road…Howson leaves the bench and curls in from 20 yards with more or less his first touch, then Beckford moments later, bundles in with more or less his last meaningful touch for the club.

So why the pre-amble? It’s all about making a point…a point about our recent history, a point about the games, about the players that matter. Look at the goal scorers – every one of them sold on…to a better club, for a better salary, for a brighter future – apart from one…well, at least for now. The great games, those iconic moments, all sold on as the balance sheet has always outweighed ambition, has counted for more than history, than identity, than what makes Leeds United what it is for the latest generation of supporters.

All of those heroes of the common man are now gone, bar one player – that one great, reassuring, reliable constant who’s been present since Gary McAllister’s first summer…our Luciano. In an era where we bemoan loyalty, the need to bring players up through the youth system and where we repeatedly question the motives of “foreign mercenaries”, the one man to embody everything good about Leeds United is an Argentinian striker…and the club are ready to dispose of him, just like that.

The early days of Grayson

The early days of Grayson

I ask the question: if Luciano goes, what is left of Leeds United? Our current identity is indelibly linked to his presence; if he is sold then what what remains at the club that screams “Leeds United”? Who else amongst the playing ranks can the supporters identify with and unquestioningly believe in? Who else can command universal adoration with a deft flick of the head or one sweet contact from the left boot?

Of the others, only Ross McCormack at the moment regularly commands a song and he can’t even be assured of a regular start. Sam Byram is the other obvious option, but perhaps world weary Leeds fans have shied away from idolising him having been hurt too many times by quick sales before?

Luciano is Leeds United’s only remaining icon; there are no other squad members who can come close, while the only other high profile, redolent presence of past glories at Elland Road, Peter Lorimer, remains a figure many rather forget than celebrate…without Becchio Leeds have no presence: no figurehead, no talisman, no hero, no connection with those few positives of our recent past and that last young, exciting, promotion winning side we could identify with. For a club that has become so detached from the football, Becchio represents our heart and soul; he’s part of the fabric of what keeps Leeds United so beloved to those who follow – a man who genuinely understands what it means to play for Leeds and is adored for it.

Millwall - enough said

Millwall – enough said

Becchio, for all his limitations has become more than just another player; he’s symbolic of what few remnants of LUFC remain precious and worth celebrating – he may not be Lionel Messi, but at our level his presence he is as fundamental as his Argentine compatriot. He’s limited, but he’s also integral to the ambitions of a Championship club with no apparent aid from a minted, mysterious benefactor.

Becchio may just be a footballer, but he’s Leeds, he’s ours, and as much as he might take stick, he ultimately delivers. His connection with supporters, his record, his critcical importance to our style of play…this makes his retention imperative – check the records: remove Becchio’s goals and we’d have a mere 18 points to our name this campaign – relegation fodder; take away his recent (openly criticised) contribution and Leeds failed to trouble the goalkeeper in over 6 hours following Somma’s consolation at Forest. Sometimes a player’s value transcends money – this is one such case.

Luciano matters. So much so that his immediate future may do as much, if not much more to define GFHC’s early agenda as any other signing, sale or PR exercise. As new owners, Haigh, Patel and Alrayes surely want to market themselves as progressive, ambitious folk with a keen ear towards the fan base and an unwilting respect for our past, yet it is Becchio, the one remaining beloved constant of our darkest period who appears the likeliest departure over these closing days of the transfer window.

May 8th 2010

May 8th 2010

Some people, quite depressingly, are only to willing to roundly condemn Becchio following the news he requested a transfer – does the Gradel saga not ring any bells? Does nobody remember Ben Parker revealing that Jonny Howson wanted to remain at the club? The likes of Eddie Gray and Dominic Matteo have already cast doubts about Luciano wanting to leave the club, despite what appears at least on the surface to be quite a sustained effort on  he part of Warnock and Jones to ship him out.

Those who choose to slate him, to question his devotion, to cast aspersions of greed – they really ought to think twice about how the Elland Road PR spin machine functions.

Personally, if I was him; a South American man with a family to support and no experience of Leeds United as a ‘big time’ club, I’d naturally be looking to move on at this time – the fact that he remains; that he signed a new deal last time when doubtless, better offers were there, stands as testament of a commitment that is beyond what could be realistically expected towards a barely competitive Championship club – frankly, I consider it to borrow his infamous words, “fucking unbelievable”.

Delivering again versus Chelsea

Delivering again versus Chelsea

Never mind Luciano’s supposed demands, his wishes, those clubs who are sniffing around – GFHC this is your call. This is about valuing a man who’s remained loyal while all others have departed; a man who’s single-handedly kept the club on the fringes of the play-offs shake-up; a man as iconic, as celebrated and as likely to draw people into Elland Road as anyone.

So to Messrs Haigh, Patel and Alrayes – this is not about just about Lucianos’ ambition, this is the first test of yours. Even Ken Bates agreed to the club allowing Jermaine Beckford’s contract to wind down as Simon Grayson (rightly) felt him to be integral, come the end of season promotion shake-up…if you’ve any intentions of pushing for the top 6 in 2013, then this is your call to make.

86 times

86 times

Leeds United stands for so little football-related these days. Don’t strip us of our last remaining icon. He’s limited, he’s slow, but yet he always delivers…and he’s ours. Don’t lose him.

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27 responses to “Becchio: A Player That Money Just Can’t Buy

  1. Total tosh, why keep someone who, for whatever reason, has handed in a transfer request. He has made it abundantly clear that he wants to leave. We dont know how much he has been offered, but if reports of 4m are true, then I think that is a good wage for championship football. If he wants to try a better standard of league then no amount of money will keep him. His final destination will tell us which it is.

    • Why keep him?
      For all the reasons listed in the above article perhaps?
      Or maybe just because he’s our only source of goals.
      Cretin.

      • WE ARE LEEDS,WE ARE LEEDS,WE ARE LEEDS!!!! SING IT LOAD AND PROUD!!I WILL BE DOIN SO 2DAY!

  2. Saw him at Bristol city . He was roundly criticized for a poor performance . All I saw was an overworked centre forward trying his socks off for his club . Bristol city put a guy of about 6″3 marking him and invited Leeds to ” do their best ” . The few times Leeds did look threatening they fired in high balls to becchio and when he didn’t win the Ariel duel against the giant center half you could hear the groans and moans . A little bit of savvy on the ball may have created a few more chances but then again we don’t do savvy at Leeds do we . The only player with real creativity on the pitch that day was Neil Kilkenny , enuf said

  3. Well said . Hope they read this or I hope Eddie Gray has contact with them I am sure he would reiterate your sentiments. Was it not Mick Jones who started all this 2-3 weeks ago practically putting Becchio in the January sales with his wanted man comments now Warnock is claiming his head h.s been turned. Strange man management in my eyes unless it is all premeditated, if it is premeditated then it makes what you have written all the more poignant. On a positive note, they have just improved and extended Sam Byram’s contract.

    • I think this about Becchio is arranged well from the owners, first tell thats Bcchios head arent focused, and he isnt trying to do his best, etc.Its not true because they want to sell him, and of course receiving all this unfair critisism he wants to leave the club. Wanock must go.
      Sorry for my bad english but Im not from UK or another english country.

  4. Your best article for a while. Recent missives were unredeemingly negative and unconstructive. On this I wholeheartedly agree, the guy has put his all into playing for the team. We constantly have paraded before us a stream of money grabbing managers, coaches, agents, players and here is someone who has displayed total commitment season after season. He embodies all that a true fan wants to see in his club’s shirt and is iconic for that reason. Forget his technical limitations, we’re a mid-table Championship club at best just now – what the hell else do we expect!? If we’d had someone with his attitude for each position on the pitch over the past seasons, ask yourselves … “where would we be now?”. If you’re true to yourselves you know the answer ….

      • Hi Ken, you’re right. Forgive me for being hard on you. It’s been unremittingly depressing following from my remote location, this past few years – so God only knows how it must feel actually being there week in week out. And all with the added poignancy of ghosts from our wonderful past still haunting our memories and half-empty stadium

  5. LUST again … all they wish to do and seem able to do is knock Leeds United, i wish Luciano all the best but he has put on record his desire to leave for more money (he is reportedly the highest player ay leads and has been offered a premier size wage) so please do not back Luciano while slating Leeds United.

    • How is this a pre-meditated LUST attack? I’d have thought most people would like to retain our top scorer and longest serving player. 18 months remain on his contract and he’s already spoken of an extension – why MUST he be sold?

  6. What a rubbish article. Becchio does not rank anywhere near the great players who have played for United. Beckford, Delph, Snodgrass were far greater losses to the club. Anything near a transfer fee of £2m would be great business for the club. Woods transfer fee of £1.3m to Leicester was a bargain. Woods is a far better player than Becchio and I doubt that he will be on £20k pw which is reported to be the Becchio offer.
    Get rid for as much as possible

  7. I agree with majority of article, but having read the replies I feel the larger problem here is whether the new owners are prepared to offer players more money in terms of wages. Whilst we don’t want to be held to ransom by players it is apparent over the past few years that we have missed out on a number of signings because they were offered better terms elsewhere. Johnson and Kilkenny also moved as they were offered better terms. GFH will need to pay the going rate to get the right players in, but also keep the better players at the club. Woods transfer to Leicester was a bargain in terms of transer fee, but Leicester can pay a lot more in wages (Beckford reportedly on £40,000 a week when moving there from Everton) If GFH won’t match wages of other Championship clubs then we are going nowhere. In my view, Becchio should be offered the going rate – he is arguably our most important player.

  8. Very well written, and sums up my feelings on Becchio, the club, and my sadness at the decline of LUFC. Tweet this to Messers Haigh and Patel. From a Sydney LUFC supporter.

  9. Two interesting comments by Becchio’s agent in the Sporting Life:

    “Leeds is like a home for Luciano. He feels respect and love for the club’s fans. He has the best intentions of staying. He was willing to give up a lot of money to stay at Leeds.”

    “It is my opinion that the new administration of Leeds United has not put in enough effort in their attempts to retain Luciano.”

    From a Sporting Life article at http://bit.ly/UtS8oB Final line of article reads:

    GFH Capital were contacted for a comment but had yet to respond.

  10. The bottom line is: the bottom line. If Becchio is already the best paid at the club, l simply don’t see how we can afford to pay much more. I have to admit, this “29, not 25 so needs to think of his family” stuff leaves me cold when he earns More for his family of five in a fortnight than I do for my family of seven in a year

    • The bottom line is. If he is the highest paid at the club and they can not pay any more , then we really are stuffed.

  11. Cheers for all the feedback.

    Having pushed out Howson and Gradel under similar circumstances, I find the fact that anyone questioning is Becchio, quite extraordinary.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Extraordinary is the word. Where the hell is the creativity of the purse holders. Give him a fee for contract extension, give him a pay rise, add a couple of cherries – goal and win bonuses. And then consider selling him this Summer if necessary as part of a re-build. The longer contract actually increases his value in the transfer market and we’d only be paying the increased wage for 6 months. Instead he goes, with transfer deadline being measured in hours now – we fail to sign anyone in the time left and then … If we lose McCormack through injury? God help us

  12. Some Leeds fans make me shake my head in despair. Wake up people! This reeks of Bates. GFH either have no money or won’t invest their money so we have to sell to buy. The one player who we’ve had offers for is Becchio so he’s now a money grabbing bastard who the club are being forced into selling. Anyone who thinks selling Becchio to bring in Dexter Blackstock is good business really needs to get a grip.

  13. Anyone for a game of tennis ?

    Let’s all chill out and play some tennis guys.

    If anyone is in or around Watford i am available for a game of tennis most weekends.

    Look me up on JA 606 & we can talk all things LUFC & Tennis.

    First serve any one ?

  14. i think losing him will be a big mistake people go on about beckford . & i just do not no why with the service from snodgrass & lay offs from becciho what has he done ?? people saying won 2 with out him well hoof ball to him is not his fault & where is the support when he gets it .. warnock needs to go but i doubt it till the end of this season

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