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Beckham says he would like to quit Galaxy for AC Milan

Talks are underway between the player's lawyers and the MLS team.

February 05, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

By every measurable indication, the David Beckham era in Los Angeles has come to an end.

On Wednesday, taking advantage of a quick swing through Scotland, the Galaxy midfielder said quite plainly what he had been hinting at for weeks -- that he wants out -- and that he wants to stay with AC Milan.

"I have expressed my desire now to stay in Milan and hopefully the clubs can come to some agreement," Beckham said after the Italian team's 2-2 tie in a friendly match with Rangers in Glasgow.

"My main objective is to stay at this club. I enjoy playing here and at the highest level and it would give me more of a chance" of being on England's team at the World Cup in South Africa next year, Beckham said.

"I have not spoken to the Galaxy, but someone has from my side and it is literally down to them to come to some sort of agreement and hopefully they will."

Beckham, who in 2007 signed a five-year contract with the Galaxy that pays him $6.5 million a year, is currently on loan to the seven-time European champion. Under terms of the agreement, he is due to return to Los Angeles on March 9.

The Galaxy opens the Major League Soccer season March 22 against D.C. United at the Home Depot Center.

When Beckham left for Italy, he said it was to keep fit during the long MLS off-season. But he has slotted directly into Milan's starting lineup, displacing Brazilian icon Ronaldinho, and has won praise from teammates, coaches and fans.

"Playing with these players has been an incredible experience," Beckham said. "It's been even better than I thought it would be. I've been welcomed incredibly well and made to feel at home, and that's made me want to stay.

"Now it is out of my hands, so I have to wait and see. The loan agreement I signed is until March, so we've got time. It doesn't need to be rushed. Could I finish my career with Milan? Possibly, yes."

In Los Angeles, the Galaxy closed its morning training session to the media on Wednesday and a team spokesman said that neither the coaches nor the players would have anything to say about Beckham's future.

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena has repeatedly said he expects Beckham back by March 9 and Tim Leiweke, AEG's chief executive, earlier promised season-ticket holders that Beckham would be back.

Now, that seems very unlikely.

Earlier Wednesday, Adriano Galliani, chief executive of AC Milan, said that Beckham's attorneys were talking to the Galaxy -- which means, in effect, that they are talking to MLS, which handles all player contracts, and to AEG, which owns the Galaxy.

"At the moment, there is neither optimism nor pessimism," Galliani said. "We would look to acquire him or get him on loan until the end of the season.

"Otherwise, unfortunately for everyone starting with me, Beckham has to go back."

But having stated his desire to remain in Italy, the more likely scenario is that Beckham will get his wish.

He has scored two goals and assisted on two others in his five games for AC Milan and even Carlo Ancelotti, the team's coach, has been surprised by his showing.

"He has given us a new impulse, more enthusiasm, he has given this team something extra," Ancelotti said. "He has especially shown a lot of professionalism and discipline.

"He wants to stay, but everything depends on the Galaxy."

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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