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Beckham's 2010 stands to be busy

The Galaxy is ready to loan him anew to AC Milan. Then there are the World Cup and the remainder of the MLS season.

October 09, 2009|Grahame L. Jones

If David Beckham thought soccer was tugging him this way and that in 2009 -- with the conflicting demands of the Galaxy, AC Milan and England's national team -- 2010 will be even more demanding.

On Thursday, Tim Leiweke, the chief executive of AEG, which owns the Galaxy, said the Major League Soccer team would be "honored" to loan Beckham to AC Milan once again next year. Speaking at a soccer conference in London, Leiweke said he wanted the deal finalized in the next few weeks so that the Galaxy could concentrate on the MLS playoffs without any distractions.

Leiweke said the same thing applied to Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, likely to be offered a new long-term contract.

So, if all goes as planned, Beckham will stick around to try to get the Galaxy to the Nov. 22 MLS Cup final in Seattle, then rejoin AC Milan in January when the international transfer window reopens.

He will stay there, Leiweke said, through the end of the Italian season in May and then, if selected, join England's World Cup squad for the June 11-July 11 tournament in South Africa. "We want to make sure he fulfills that dream," Leiweke said.

After that, Beckham, who turns 35 in May, would have a break of a couple of weeks and then return to Los Angeles for the last four months or so of the 2010 MLS season and beyond.

But there is more. Speaking at the same conference earlier this week, Jack Warner, president of CONCACAF and a vice-president of FIFA, characterized England's bid to stage the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 as "lightweight" and said it needs an infusion of star power. "I would take David Beckham, for example, and make him my ambassador. He has that stardust," Warner said.

England's bid chief, Andy Anson, said the Galaxy midfielder is definitely in its plans. "We will use individuals like David Beckham and hopefully members of the royal family in our own time and in the right place," Anson said. "They are important to our bid."

Since FIFA will vote on the location of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December 2010, that means Beckham will be called upon frequently next year, and especially after the World Cup, to tout his country's cause.

Meanwhile, there is turmoil in Milan and it is doubtful whether Beckham's return in January will be enough, in itself, to put matters straight.

The Serie A team is owned by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's embattled prime minister, who is reported to be strapped for cash in the wake of a court ruling ordering his holding company, Fininvest, to pay $1.1 billion in a non-soccer-related case. That has led to speculation that Berlusconi would have to sell the team.

The Italian media has reported interest by unnamed Arab investors, and this week an Albanian oil tycoon told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he would have no problem paying 700 million Euros for Milan, a sum that would just about clear the $1.1 billion Berlusconi owes. "Following the umpteenth press story, Fininvest denies again . . . that there is any plan to sell all or part of AC Milan," a company statement said.

Earlier this year, Berlusconi sold AC Milan's biggest star, Kaka, to Real Madrid for $98 million and failed to replace him. The team has since struggled and the support for first-year Coach Leonardo has been lukewarm while attendance has dropped noticeably.

This is the scenario Beckham likely will face in January in what could be his most challenging year yet.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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