Beckham hints at Milan stay
David Beckham left the door open to a possible long-term stay at AC Milan after scoring his first goal in Italian football in a 4-1 win at Bologna.
The victory kept Milan in the title hunt, trailing leaders and city rivals Inter Milan by six points. Playing only his third match for Milan, Beckham wrapped things up on the hour mark with Milan's fourth, a rocket that beat Francesco Antonioli at his near post.
"I feel very good here. I arrived in a team that wanted me for years and I play for exceptional fans," said the former England captain. "I'll stay here until March and then we'll see. Right now I'm focussed only on my football."
Beckham linked up with his Milan team-mates at the end of December before joining them on a mid-season warm weather training camp in Dubai. He joined on loan from LA Galaxy and his deal is due to run out on 8 March, after which he is expected back in Los Angeles for the start of the new Major League Soccer season.
However, he has been an instant hit in Milan for his industrious play on the right side of a three-man midfield and now the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player seems to be considering a longer stay in the Italian financial capital.
On Sunday, he struck from about 15 yards out to the right of goal to net his first successful strike for Milan. "It was a truly special goal, just as it is special for me to be playing here," he told RAI TV. "The important thing was to win so now we are even more confident ahead of Wednesday's game (against Genoa)."
Milan have been a more balanced and effective outfit since Beckham joined, something they had lost since Gennaro Gattuso was injured. Coach Carlo Ancelotti is keen to keep him at the club but admits that it is out of his hands.
"It's up to him what happens. Our hands are tied because he is locked into a very precise contract," said Ancelotti. "But as long as we have him at our disposal I see no reason not to take advantage of that because he's giving us a lot."
It's not just Beckham's presence on the right side of a three man midfield that is working well for Ancelotti, but another switch also seems to have paid dividends. Rather than playing Kaka behind Pato and Ronaldinho, Ancelotti has pushed Kaka further forward, dropped Ronaldinho to the bench and is playing veteran Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf in the hole behind the front two.
Massimo Ambrossini is bringing some steel to the midfield. "Right now we're playing with great effectiveness because we're making the most of Kaka and Pato's pace," said Ancelotti. "Seedorf gives us more cover (than Ronaldinho) but we haven't forgetten when the Brazilian was playing well over the first half of the season."
However, it seems the former Barcelona and Paris St Germain player is paying for poor discipline. "He was the one who did the least work in Dubai but in the future he can once again play with Pato and Kaka," said the coach.
He may have to wait a while, though. If things continue in this vein, Ancelotti, who celebrated 400 games in charge of Milan against Bologna, believes his side has what it takes to be champions for the first time since 2004. "If we carry on along this path we can win the championship," he said. "The problem right now is finding consistency."