Beckham expected to quit Real to pursue US dream

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The Independent Football

David Beckham is expected to inform Real Madrid today that he no longer wishes to remain at the Bernabeu after the summer and he has decided that the next stage of his career will be played out in the United States, with a move to LA Galaxy most likely.

Reports last night said Beckham would reject a two-year contract extension when he meets the club's board at a 1pm meeting today. Beckham has decided that if he is not going to play regularly for Real, he may as well leave. A move to the US will appeal to his family and he could maintain his wages after a relaxation of the salary cap.

Beckham's Real epitaph was written, scrubbed out, rewritten and then scrubbed out again yesterday as the wrath of his under-fire coach, Fabio Capello, and a linguistic error by the club's sporting director, Predrag Mijatovic, left his Spanish future hanging by a thread.

First, Beckham was unceremoniously dumped by Capello not just from the first team but from the first-team squad for the first time in his three and a half seasons at the club.

Rumours of a blacklist of players the Italian coach wants to be rid of emerged earlier in the week after an emergency meeting was called to halt the recent poor run of results. Beckham, it seems, was on that list, along with the Brazil striker Ronaldo and Italy's Antonio Cassano ­ all three were left behind in Madrid as the team travelled to Seville for tonight's cup tie with Real Betis.

But then the Beckham camp confirmed that the next set of talks would take place today. However, Mijatovic was then quoted by the Italian media as saying that Beckham's contract would not be renewed.

Mijatovic suggestedthat the meeting today would only be to confirm that the original offer had been withdrawn and that Real no longer wanted Beckham, whose representative, Simon Oliveira, then issued a denial that the deal was off and claimed a transcript of the radio conversation in which Mijatovic seemingly washed his hands of Beckham revealed a breakdown in communication. Mijatovic was asked: "Will Beckham be signing?" and replied: " No. No Beckham hasn't signed yet."

Conspiracy theories seem to be focused on the idea that Real are hiding behind language barriers and that at the very least they want to pressure Beckham into signing a deal with no increase in his image rights ­ currently shared 50-50 ­ and are paving the way to withdraw their original offer.

The noises being made by Capello do not favour Beckham's survival at Real and they at least are much easier to read. "The most important thing for us is to have players with hunger, who fight for the badge", he said yesterday, shortly after dropping Beckham from his 18-man squad for tonight's cup match.

Oliveira confirmed: "We have spoken to the club this afternoon and as far as we are concerned a significant two-year deal remains on the table. We are meeting [today] and will sit down to discuss the deal further and will go from there."

Real are very keen to keep the midfielder, even though he has been a bit-part player under Capello, since his marketing power as the world's most famous footballer remains a huge draw across the globe.

Beckham, though, has seen six different coaches since he joined Real in July 2003, and the club have failed to land a trophy. Even with a host of top-quality new signings and under a proven coach such as Capello, they have stuttered this season, leaving Beckham with doubts whether he should remain.

The Serie A leaders, Internazionale, have ruled out a move for Beckham. Marseilles also yesterday dismissed the possibility of buying Beckham even if Sven Goran Eriksson becomes their manager.

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