David Beckham will always be linked to Manchester United. From his fledgling days scoring from his own half against Wimbledon, to his glory days whipping in corners for Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 1999, to the infamous "Spice Boy" image of his last few years at the club.
He currently plies his trade in America for LA Galaxy, and at 36, his best years are seemingly far behind him.
But has the time come to bring Beckham back to Old Trafford?
Anyone who watched the MLS All-Stars play Manchester United the other day would probably agree that Beckham was one of the best—if not the best—player on the American team.
And why shouldn't he be? After all, his game never depended necessitated pace or athleticism as a winger; rather, his game always depended on a strong work ethic on the training ground, a willingness to track back in midfield and—most of all—the sweetest right foot in the business.
Beckham would be value to any team for his ball striking alone. The accuracy of his passes is incredible, and his dead ball ability remains deadly. He may have lost a yard of pace, but Beckham was never known for bamboozling full backs with trickery and quickness—rather, he crossed the ball into the most dangerous of areas before the defender could even close him down.
Beckham's best position now is central midfield, somewhere United seem to lack some class. Surely there is room for Beckham to provide a role for one or two seasons whilst the likes of Anderson and Cleverly develop their talents
Sure, he might not play every minute of every game any more—but in a tight match with 10 minutes to go, are there many other players in the world you'd rather bring on to take a vital free kick or corner?
Even more than his playing ability, though, the mere presence of Beckham at Old Trafford could prove invaluable. You would struggle to find a more dedicated professional than Beckham; his "Spice Boy" days are behind him, and he represents now an example to any young player coming through the United ranks. His influence would surely have a positive effect on a player such as, for example, Ravel Morrison.
Not only this, but i don't doubt a return by Beckham would be hugely supported by the Manchester United faithful, both in Manchester and (perhaps more significantly) internationally, where the Beckham brand remains strong and sales of David Beckham shirts would surely be a cash cow for the club.
I don't doubt that Beckham would love the chance to play in the red of Manchester once again before his career comes to a close. Nor do I doubt that he would be anything but a positive influence on the club, both as a player and a mentor. If nothing else, it would be the most romantic of conclusions to a career which provided so much to Manchester United football.