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Beckham to remain at Milan throughout season

DAVID Beckham will remain on loan with AC Milan for the remainder of the season.

The Los Angeles Galaxy announced late yesterday that it had struck a "multimillion dollar deal" to enable the former England captain to remain with the Italian Serie A club until the season ends, then return to the Galaxy in July.

The Galaxy had sought $10 million for the outright purchase of Beckham, but Milan officials had offered $3 million. The two sides were negotiating for weeks and reached agreement on the loan extension hours before it was due to expire after Milan's game with Atalanta today.

"I'm really grateful to the L.A. Galaxy and AC Milan for making this dream deal happen," Beckham said in the statement.

"It allows me to play for AC Milan and the L.A. Galaxy in the same year, and also to continue my commitment to develop soccer in the United States, which is something I am passionate about."

The announcement came three weeks after Major League Soccer's Feb. 13 deadline to resolve the situation.

"Much has been written and said but all along it has been our intention to keep David Beckham as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy," Galaxy president and chief executive Tim Leiweke said in the statement.

"We are pleased he is returning and at the same time, we feel it is important to allow him to finish his run in Milan, as it has been a remarkable run."

The 33-year-old former Beckham repeatedly said he wanted to stay with Milan to improve his chances of making England's team for next year's World Cup and described his experience there as "incredible."

Beckham has a five-year contract with MLS worth $32.5 million, and it includes a clause that would allow him to leave at the end of this year.

The Galaxy opens the MLS season on March 22. Beckham won't become eligible to play in league games until the international transfer window reopens on July 15.

That means Beckham's first game with the Galaxy will be July 16 against the New York Red Bulls, which will be moved up two days from its original date on the league schedule.

The change is necessary to accommodate another part of the deal, an exhibition between Milan and the Galaxy in Los Angeles on July 19.

Beckham won't count against the Galaxy's 20-man senior roster until he returns to the club in July, nor will he count against the club's salary budget until his return.

"I am confident that his presence will strengthen our roster in the last half of the season as we push for a playoff position," coach Bruce Arena said in the statement.

In a move to accommodate fans who endured the back-and-forth speculation on Beckham's future in Los Angeles, the team said it will cut ticket prices by an average of 10 percent.

Refunds, in the amount of the rollback, will be issued for anyone who has already purchased season or individual tickets, the team said.

Beckham said his ideal scenario for the year would be to help Milan qualify for next season's Champions League and for the Galaxy to make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup.


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