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David Beckham will return to Galaxy

SOCCER

Tim Leiweke, chief executive of the club's parent company, says AC Milan misses the deadline to make another offer and negotiations are over.

February 14, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

Unless there is another twist in the tale -- and that remains possible -- David Beckham will be back with the Galaxy next month.

Tim Leiweke, chief executive of AEG, which owns the Major League Soccer team, said that AC Milan had failed to meet the league's Friday deadline to make a more substantive offer for the English midfielder and that no late offer would be considered.

"He will be back here on March 9 and we don't want to entertain any more conversations now," Leiweke said. "It is a distraction to [Galaxy Coach] Bruce Arena, the team and the fans, and we move on. That's the last we're going to talk about this."

Asked what would happen if the Italian club made an offer over the weekend or next week, Leiweke said: "They'll come back. Sure they will. But we owe it to our fans [not to consider it]. They've been reading all these stories and we lose credibility by the day. That's not fair. We owe it to Bruce and we owe it to the rest of the team. We're a month away from our season."

Leiweke said AC Milan had not come close to offering what AEG and MLS believe Beckham is worth.

"They've never been in the ballpark," Leiweke said, referring to the figure of more than $10 million that MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who imposed Friday's deadline, said the league would expect to receive.

"What they've tried to do is use David and use us," Leiweke said. "We're not going to play that game anymore. This has been extremely damaging and distracting for our team.

"I've been as courteous and as gracious as I possibly can, out of respect for David, but now it's time to move on. We need to get David excited about the team we're building here and about coming back."

Leiweke said he did not think Beckham, who is paid $6.5 million a year by the Galaxy, would try to make up the financial difference out of his own pocket.

"I doubt it," he said. "I don't think that's his intent. Nor would I encourage him to even think about that."

But reading between the lines of an interview with Beckham in Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, it was evident that the midfielder, who turns 34 on May 2, desperately wants to stay in Italy.

"I have nothing against the Galaxy," Beckham said. "Los Angeles has been a wonderful experience. But at Milan I have found great players who have been of great help to me. For the time being, things could not be going better."

Beckham has played six games while on loan to AC Milan, winning three and tying three, and is expected to start in the "derby" match Sunday against defending champion Inter Milan.

It would be very difficult for Beckham to switch back to MLS, if he indeed does so, but Leiweke said he believed the player could handle it.

"I am certain, because David is the ultimate professional, he will get his arms around this," Leiweke said. "He will be disappointed, because of how well he's playing there. But he will get his arms around it and he will come back and I think he will have a great year for us and I'm hoping we have a great year for him."

Leiweke also said Landon Donovan, who is on loan with Bayern Munich in Germany, definitely would return to the Galaxy.

"Landon's coming back, period," he said. "And that's part of our consideration here. . . . I'm sure that Landon and his team have been watching this, thinking that there's some ray of hope that we would change our mind with Landon.

"I went out of my way to loan both of these players and fill their wish. I did them both a favor. Now I expect them to return the favor back to the Galaxy."

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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