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Beckham to return to AC Milan in January

ENGLAND midfielder David Beckham will return to AC Milan on loan in January after the Italian club reached an agreement with Los Angeles Galaxy yesterday.

Beckham played for Milan for six months from January 2009, scoring two goals in 18 matches in a successful bid to win his place back in England's national squad.

"I had to give myself the best chance to play in the World Cup and playing on loan with Milan will help me do that," Beckham told Milan's Web site. "I enjoyed my last experience in Milan a lot and I can't wait to meet the team and the staff again.

"I have to thank (Los Angeles owner) Tim Leiweke and (Los Angeles coach) Bruce Arena for having given me this opportunity. I remain close to Los Angeles Galaxy and Major League Soccer and I care about football's development in the United States.

"Now I am completely concentrated on finishing this season in the best way with my club by winning the MLS Cup."

Negotiations for Beckham to return had been ongoing between Milan and the Galaxy for a number of weeks.

"We are delighted to see David Beckham back in the red-and-black shirt after his splendid experience last season," AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said on the club's Web site.

"We are sure that this period in Europe will help him make it to the next World Cup, and after that his career with Los Angeles Galaxy. We must thank them for agreeing to this deal."

In March 2009 against Slovakia, during his time with Milan, Beckham became England's second most capped player when he broke Bobby Moore's record of 108 international appearances.

Currently, Beckham has played 115 internationals, with only former goalkeeper Peter Shilton ahead of him with 125.

It was England manager Fabio Capello who pushed Beckham to join a European club on loan in early 2009 to maintain his fitness during Major League Soccer's offseason.

Originally, it was scheduled to be a three-month agreement until the start of the MLS season. But such was his success that both Beckham and Milan sought to extend the loan period till the end of the European season.

Having helped Milan reach the Champions League, Beckham returned to the Galaxy to receive a hostile reaction from some supporters and criticism in print by teammate Landon Donovan.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder did little to smooth relations when he confronted some abusive fans after games.

Since then, Beckham has won over supporters by helping Los Angeles into the MLS playoffs for the first time since his arrival in the United States. He also patched up his differences with Donovan.

If the 34-year-old Beckham does make it to next year's tournament in South Africa, it will his fourth World Cup.

He was made the scapegoat for England's exit in the round of 16 at the 1998 tournament in France after being sent off before the penalty shootout loss to Argentina.

Four years later in Japan and South Korea, Beckham was recovering from a broken metatarsal and criticized for jumping out of a tackle just before Brazil equalized in England's quarterfinal loss.

In 2006 at Germany, Beckham finished the tournament in tears after injury meant he was unable to play a part in the latter stages of England's penalty shootout defeat to Portugal in the quarterfinals.


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