David Beckham last night confirmed for the first time that he wants to make his loan move to Milan permanent and said that he hopes to finish his career with the Serie A club. The 33-year-old England midfielder, speaking after Milan drew 2-2 in a friendly against Rangers at Ibrox, added that he has told his principal employers, LA Galaxy, that he wants to leave, and he will leave the matter in the hands of his advisers and lawyers to try to arrange a deal.
"I've said that my intention is to stay in Milan, now it's out of my hands," he said. "Hopefully, the clubs can come to some agreement... I respect the Galaxy but I've expressed my desire now to stay in Milan."�
Beckham has made it known privately that his single most important professional objective is staying in contention for a place in Fabio Capello's England team, and a shot at World Cup glory in South Africa next year.
That is why he sought the loan to Milan, originally scheduled to end on 8 March, but now likely to change dramatically in nature because the move has exceeded all expectations. Beckham said last night that things had gone "a lot better" than he had anticipated. "I expected to enjoy it but not play in every game as I have done,"� he said. He added that playing for England at the World Cup finals was in his thoughts, and that playing "at the highest level"� with Milan "will increase my chances".
Milan had already registered Beckham in their Uefa Cup squad, although he would be available for as few as two games in that competition if he departed when originally planned.
With Galaxy's blessing, a permanent transfer should be agreed quickly, in which case Milan would need to pay Galaxy a transfer fee. Beckham has a get-out clause in his Galaxy contract but cannot trigger it without financial penalties until October.
If Galaxy do not consent to a move, they could hold Beckham to his contract and he would need to return to America in March. That seems unlikely now Beckham has made clear his desire to leave. Galaxy will probably try to get as much money as they can for him, although a spokesman for the club would say only "no comment"� last night.
Beckham said he had not spoken to Capello about his decision, but of a place in the England squad in general, he said: "If you're playing well and doing well, hopefully you're in."
Asked whether he thought Galaxy would allow him to leave, Beckham said: "I don't know... they've been great to me while I've been out there, we'll see."� Of the prospect of finishing his career in Milan, he said: "Hopefully."
Last night's match was not a serious affair and featured Beckham for only the first half, but it was a star-studded knockabout in the Govan snow and lively after the break.
The former Major League Soccer star, DaMarcus Beasley of Rangers and the US, put his team 1-0 up before Pato made it 1-1. Kaka puts the Italians 2-1 ahead before Rangers' Sasa Papac secured a draw for the hosts.
A crowd of 45,197 paid £25 each to come and whistle at Ronaldinho, Shevchenko, Kaka, Beckham and Co, and lob an occasional jeer when a Rangers player, especially 17-year-old John Fleck, nicked an unlikely ball.
This was, above all, an exercise in glamour, or a case of "Look, Rangers fans, at what your club will never afford". It also gave Beckham a platform to let Galaxy know his time at pasture is over, and he wants to be a serious footballer again.
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