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Ancelotti sets European target as Beckham nears Milan deal

A DEAL allowing David Beckham to extend his stay with AC Milan through the end of the season is close but not complete, Milan chairman Adriano Galliani said yesterday.

The former England captain joined Milan on a two-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy in January and was due to return to the Major League Soccer club next week. But Beckham wants to stay, and Galliani said the two sides are nearing a deal that would keep him at Milan until the summer.

"The deal is not done. We're working on the possibility of a loan until June 30, but no deal has been reached yet," Galliani said before boarding a plane for a friendly in Doha, Qatar. Beckham has a five-year contract with the Galaxy worth US$32.5 million.

"The deal is getting more and more concrete," Galliani said on Monday. "I hope we can arrange it so he stays on loan at least until June 30. Then he could return to Los Angeles and rejoin us in January."

Financial terms of the proposal are unknown, but the Galaxy earlier had asked US$10 million from Milan for the outright purchase of Beckham. Milan had said it would pay no more than US$3 million, since he could become available anyway after the MLS season.

"This is the direction we're aiming for," Galliani said. "It's complicated, as we've always known, but I'm still trying."

Beckham wants to remain with Milan to improve his chances of making England's team for next year's World Cup. He has played in 11 games with the Rossoneri, nine of them in Serie A in which he always started. He has scored two goals.

"He's transformed himself into a very important player, although he's a bit worn down right now," Galliani added.

Meanwhile, Galliani made it clear that Carlo Ancelotti must steer Milan into the Champions League to ensure he is still the coach next season.

"Carlo Ancelotti will stay if we come third," Galliani told the La Gazzetta dello Sport's Website.

Milan, whose form has been poor, is clinging to third place in Serie A, which would send it directly into next season's Champions League.

A 1-2 defeat at Sampdoria on Sunday left the side trailing leaders Inter Milan by 12 points and just two ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina.

Ancelotti has already called an end to Milan's title hopes, saying a top three finish was its main target after it was knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Werder Bremen on Thursday.

The seven-time European champion was in the UEFA Cup after failing to qualify for the Champions League with a fifth-placed finish in Serie A last year. Ancelotti, Serie A's longest serving coach having been appointed in 2001, led Milan to European Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007 but has captured only one league title, in 2004.


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