Beckham courts change

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David Beckham is negotiating a new contract with Manchester United that could see him become football's first self-employed footballer.

The England captain has 18 months left on his current deal at Old Trafford and according to reports, Beckham is negotiating his contract as a company rather than an individual.

The issue has caused numerous problems at United and prompted escalating fears that Beckham will leave the club when his present contract ends. Beckham's agents SFX are handling the player's contract talks and if they are able to successfully negotiate a deal to their satisfaction it could fundamentally alter players relationships with their clubs. The players could sign deals with provision for image rights that could net them huge sums of money.

The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said yesterday that he will not beg his unsettled midfielder Patrick Vieira to stay at Highbury.

After a summer of reports linking the Frenchman to a host of top European clubs finally subsided, it appeared the 25-year-old was settled in north London. But the former Cannes player started fresh speculation over his future this week by suggesting he would decide whether he wanted to stay at Highbury before the World Cup in Japan and South Korea next summer.

"I believe the ambition of the club must be so strong and the feeling of the players about the future so strong that I do not have to force players to stay," Wenger said. "They must want to be part of our project and our ambition."

Asked about his aims for the next three years, Wenger said: "To win the championship – and I'm desperate to win the European Cup. You have to forget what you've done in the past and look at what is in front of you."