Calderon insists that re-signing Beckham is Real priority

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The Independent Online

The Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon remains confident that David Beckham will sign a new two-year contract at the Bernabeu, calling him one of Real's most important players. Beckham's future at the Spanish club is the cause for much speculation, with the former England captain having lost his first-team place under the new coach Fabio Capello this season and with his contract running out next summer.

That means he will be free to negotiate with other clubs in January and he has already been linked with a move to Major League Soccer in the United States.

However, Calderon said Beckham, who signed a four-year deal when joining Real from Manchester United in 2003, was still a vital part of the Real set-up.

"I think Beckham, from the point of view of the fan, is one of the most important players at Real Madrid," Calderon said in an interview to mark his 100th day in charge.

"I speak as a fan and the president of Real Madrid. For many reasons - commercial and sporting. But Beckham would be nothing commercially if it wasn't for his sporting ability."

Beckham has started the past four Real matches on the bench - the first time he has been a substitute for successive games since joining Real. Capello, who took over in the summer, has preferred the recent signing Jose Antonio Reyes and Raul as his two wide men in midfield, but Calderon insists the Italian coach still values Beckham highly.

"I have spoken with Capello about Beckham, because it is in my interest as the president regarding hiring and contract renewals. And Capello said to me that he counts on Beckham. Therefore he has requested that I renew his contract, and that is what we are doing."

However, Calderon is aware of the challenge he faces in keeping Beckham. "Beckham has many offers because he is a key player in many senses but, as I said before, fundamentally on the sporting side," Calderon added. "I think he is going to renew his contract for another two years, but we will have to wait and see if he wants to continue or not."

Real play their local rivals Getafe this weekend as La Liga returns to action following the midweek international break.

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