David Beckham and AC Milan confirmed a deal has been agreed between the Italians and Los Angeles Galaxy that enables the former England captain to stay in Italy until the end of the season. Beckham's current loan deal from the Major League Soccer side was due to end on 9 March, with Milan's home game against Atalanta today presumed to be his last match in the red and black shirt.
But Beckham released a statement through Galaxy confirming the rumours this week that a deal has been reached allowing him to remain in Italy until the end of the season, before returning to Galaxy to see out the rest of the MLS season. Milan followed that up by announcing on their official website that the 'Spice Boy' would be staying at the club until 30 June.
"I'm grateful to both clubs for making this dream come true," said Beckham. "I will be able to play for Milan and Galaxy in the same season, hence keeping with my commitment to Major League Soccer in order to develop football in the USA, which is something I feel really passionate about."
Beckham added that his family would remain in Los Angeles during his time in Italy. "My family is happy and settled and will remain in LA," said Beckham. "The perfect result for 2009 would be for me to help Milan to reach the [UEFA] Champions League and for the LA Galaxy to make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup."
One spin-off of the time-sharing deal is a friendly between AC Milan and Galaxy in Carson on 19 July, Beckham's 'homecoming' game for the US team. Tim Leiweke, the chief executive of AEG, which owns the Galaxy, confirmed the deal insisting Milan had underestimated Galaxy's resolve in holding on to their star asset.
"I'm sorry that it had to go on so long, for him and for us and particularly for our fans," he said. "Milan thought, 'Hey, David wants to do this, so we don't need to do anything.
"We had to get to a point where they understood that David doesn't own this contract, the Galaxy does, and this isn't going to be just about 'Let's make David happy.' That was where the complication was. Milan needed to understand we weren't just going to turn around and say, 'Oh, yeah, no problem, keep him for a couple more months.'"
Leiweke added: "I think after some conversations between us and David and his folks, David began to understand that he didn't want to leave the league either. So this is a good solution. It allows him to finish the season with Milan. We will see him in July. I'm very excited about the Milan game."
The deal follows weeks of negotiations between the two clubs during which Milan baulked at the size of the transfer fee demanded by Galaxy, thought to be around 12 million euros. Milan reportedly were only willing to pay three million dollars.
Beckham initially joined Milan on loan in January until this weekend and was due to head back to the United States on 9 March, following Milan's home clash with Atalanta today. However, the 33-year-old, who arranged the loan deal in order to keep active during the long Major League Soccer off season so he could remain in England manager Fabio Capello's FIFA World Cup™ plans, quickly made it clear he did not want to go back to Los Angeles. Milan, too, were keen to keep hold of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star, who immediately became a first-team fixture.