Beckham at heart of Madrid's global vision

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The Independent Football

The phoney war over David Beckham's future took a new turn yesterday when a Real Madrid executive illustrated the club's future business strategy by showing a video of the Manchester United player.

Speaking at a sport and business conference in London, the former Spanish international striker Emilio Butragueño, said his club's financial success depended heavily on commercial partnerships with global brands.

To illustrate the point he screened a 30-second television advertisement for a soft drink featuring players from Manchester United and Real Madrid, with Beckham as the central character. The video formed part of Real's marketing pitch long before they were linked with the England midfielder.

Butragueño said: "David Beckham is a big company. Right now he's one of the most important players in terms of marketing in the world. Our goal is to increase marketing, you have to think globally. You can't just plan in Spain or Europe any longer. The likes of Man United are huge in Asia.''

Afterwards, Butragueño said he had "no intention of giving the impression that we are going to sign him". He added: "We just chose the most representative player at Manchester United and that was David Beckham."

Milan have distanced themselves from speculation over Beckham's future. The club's president, the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, said: "There are many better ways of spending money other than hiring Mr Beckham."