BECKHAM TRANSFER SAGA

Beckham returning to Galaxy when loan ends

February 13, 2009

CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham is coming back to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The English midfielder will return to the MLS team next month as scheduled after his two-month loan agreement with AC Milan ends despite his wish to stay in Italy.

Tim Leiweke, president of Galaxy parent AEG, said Friday the Italian club didn't make a second offer to the Galaxy to keep Beckham so the team will adhere to MLS commissioner Don Garber's Friday deadline to resolve the situation.

The Galaxy had earlier rejected Milan's only offer.

"We didn't receive an offer today," Leiweke told The Associated Press by phone from Colorado. "We will abide by the commissioner's wishes, so we are clear at this point that we don't want to have any further conversations."

Leiweke said he had discussions with Milan officials earlier in the week, but heard nothing from them Friday.

"They clearly were looking at this as a football decision and we were looking at it as a football and business decision," he said.

"I'm not sure they ever quite understood the magnitude of the losses the Galaxy and the league would have had to bear this season. They were very respectful discussions. We're fine. There's no issues here."

Leiweke said he had not spoken directly to Beckham, but that he informed the player's representatives the loan would not be made permanent. Beckham's five-year Galaxy contract is owned by MLS, and he is due in the team's training camp on March 9.

"I know David is emotionally invested, but I don't think Milan really was that interested in spending the money we would have had to receive to compensate us for our losses," Leiweke said.

"We need David to honor the contract and come home and let's stop the distraction."

Leiweke said Beckham will likely be disappointed by the outcome, but added that "David is a professional. He will get his arms around this and he will come back here."

Beckham had said he wanted to stay with Milan in a bid to play one more World Cup with England in South Africa next year.

"He can probably still accomplish that as well by being here in 2009," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Friday before the resolution was announced.

"We look forward to having him back with the club," Arena said in a statement issued Friday night.

Leiweke confirmed that Beckham has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave at the end of this year.

"Clearly the risk is we may lose him at the end of the year," Leiweke said. "Our hope is the team surprises him and we're a lot better than last year."

Beckham arrived injured amid much hoopla in July 2007, but he had no goals and two assists as the Galaxy finished with a 9-14-7 record that was third-worst in the league. Last season, Beckham had five goals and 10 assists, but the Galaxy's 8-13-9 record tied for the worst in MLS.

Beckham was injured last season, when he left the Galaxy at various times for appearances with England's national team.

Garber said this week he wanted Beckham's future resolved by Friday or he would not approve any transfer between the two teams.

"The negotiations are over and we move on," Leiweke said. "We look forward to seeing David back in camp. We need to have a good season and we need to live up to a higher expectation."

Leiweke said the Galaxy's sponsors and season ticket holders were clamoring for a conclusion to the saga.

"We heard loud and clear this week from our contractual partners that they wanted an end to this," he said. "We need to pay a little bit of attention to the league and Galaxy now."

The Galaxy opens the MLS season at home March 22 against D.C. United.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press