Roy Keane's Sunderland recruitment drive is unlikely to extend to the former England captain David Beckham.
Reports yesterday suggested the 32-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy player could be handed a surprising return to the Premier League by his former Manchester United team-mate. Sunderland were not commenting publicly on a report that they were ready to offer the midfielder a six-month loan spell at the Stadium of Light during the US close-season, although they privately played it down.
However, a spokesman for Beckham said: "There will be no loan moves or short-term contracts. He is under contract to the Galaxy."
Beckham is in the first year of a lucrative five-year deal with Galaxy which is said to be worth up to £128m, and is currently recovering from a knee injury after a frustrating start to his career on the other side of the Atlantic.
His club has prospered despite his absence in recent weeks and are pushing for a place in the end-of-season play-offs with the campaign due to draw to a close next month.
He flew back to England last week after his father Ted suffered a heart attack but has now returned to America.
There is little doubt that Sunderland – and many other clubs, for that matter – would jump at the chance to sign Beckham on a short-term basis, not just for his ability on the pitch but the publicity and merchandising opportunities his arrival would bring.
Keane's relationship with him – the pair spent a decade together at Old Trafford – would give him a headstart, and he has already taken former United colleagues Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Danny Higginbotham, Kieran Richardson, Paul McShane and Liam Miller to the Stadium of Light, as well as recruiting Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson on loan last season.
However, Beckham, who has also been linked with Newcastle as well as a host of other English clubs, appears to be staying put despite doubts over his chances of reviving his England hopes in the US.
Keane invested in excess of £35m this summer in an effort to build a squad capable of making an impact in the Premier League after a triumphant Championship campaign in his first season in charge.
Life in the top flight has been a little tougher, although that has come as no surprise to a man who spearheaded United's dominance of the domestic game.
Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Blackburn was the Black Cats' second in four attempts on Wearside so far this season, and left them sitting 15th in the table with eight points from as many games and only three clear of bottom club Derby.
They are, however, only one win adrift of Aston Villa and the Magpies in ninth and 10th, respectively, although both have played a match fewer.
Sunderland face the daunting task of travelling to meet current leaders Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday with the Gunners having dropped only two of the 21 points they have contested to date.
But 19-year-old striker Anthony Stokes, who was on the north London club's books for 18 months before making a £2m move to the Stadium of Light in January, insists they should not be intimidated after battling well before losing 1-0 at Old Trafford.
The former Gunners trainee – who made just one senior appearance for them against his current employers – said: "It's a great place to go. We have got to go down there, give it our best shot and enjoy it.
"Arsenal are unbeaten at the Emirates this season but my view is they have got to lose sometime. We cannot wait for the game. We can take heart from the performance at Old Trafford. We have proved we can hold our own against the top teams. There's a positive spirit here."Reuse content