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Beckham's deal with Milan is set

Galaxy player will join Italian team in January but return in time for the MLS season.

October 31, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Jones is a Times staff writer.

David Beckham's move from the Galaxy to AC Milan was finalized Thursday, with the England national team midfielder set to join the Italian club on loan for January and February.

The exact starting and ending dates of the loan were left unclear, however, as were most other pertinent details.

For example, neither club would reveal who would pay Beckham's $541,667-a-month salary during his absence from Los Angeles. Nor would they comment on the specifics of "a technical partnership" being formed between the Galaxy and AC Milan, or whether the Galaxy would financially benefit from lending its top player.

"Terms of the agreement will remain confidential," said a joint statement issued by the Major League Soccer and Serie A teams.

According to AC Milan's website: "The English player will be a Rossonero (red and black) from Jan. 7, 2009."

But the Associated Press reported that Beckham would undergo a physical in Milan on Dec. 20 -- two weeks after he plays for the Galaxy in a friendly match in New Zealand -- and would be introduced the next day, when his Italian jersey number would be unveiled.

Bruce Arena, the Galaxy's general manager and coach, was unable to shed much light on Beckham's travels. "He's going to be back in March, and we believe it's right around March 1, and he will be available for our opening game," Arena said.

"I haven't seen the exact details of the loan agreement yet . . . but we fully anticipate that this loan is for approximately two months. There's a possibility he could go in December."

The Galaxy's 2009 schedule has yet to be released because MLS will not decide until next month on whether to start the season earlier. A league spokesman said Thursday that it would start "sometime between March 14 and 28."

Beckham initiated the loan move because he wants to extend his England national team career, and England has a friendly game against Slovakia in London on March 28, three days before it plays a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on April 1, also at Wembley.

If called up by England Coach Fabio Capello, Beckham would thus be making at least three transatlantic trips within the first few weeks of the MLS season. The Galaxy, however, did not appear overly concerned about the toll all the global travel could take on a player who turns 34 in May.

"I am fine with everything. I have a very good feel for the whole situation," Arena said. Arena also said he expected forward Landon Donovan to remain with the Galaxy despite Donovan's strongly stated desire to join a team in Europe.

"We've got to get this club headed in the right direction, and one of the easiest ways to accomplish that is to have two great players like Beckham and Donovan on the field," Arena said.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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