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May 17, 2013

Wenger: I wanted to sign Beckham

Arsene Wenger has admitted that he was interested in signing David Beckham at points during the England international's illustrious career - but that Arsenal could never afford his lucrative salary.

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Beckham, 38, announced his retirement from professional football on Thursday - bringing to a close a career that has seen him win ten domestic titles in four different countries. He played for some of the world's biggest clubs - Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan - but never Arsenal, despite Wenger's long-term admiration.

Asked if he had ever been interested in signing him, Wenger said: "Yes I was, but it was at the period where we could not afford to pay him. After that it was a question mark as well before he went to Milan, but he was in a position where we did not really need players."

Beckham briefly trained with the North London club prior to his recent move to Paris Saint-Germain, where he helped the club win the Ligue 1 title.

"It was always a pleasure to have him here for his attitude and behaviour, he gained respect from everybody through his dedication and commitment," Wenger said of that spell. "What remains in your memory is his genuine commitment and dedication, his natural humility which he always had, that will stay forever.

"You forget sometimes if he has won this championship or that championship, but you never forget how he behaved, and that is a credit to him."

He added: "I have a huge respect for his passion for the game, his huge commitment, his mental strengths because he was under a lot of pressure throughout his career, and his dedication. I think that is where he is an example."

Meanwhile, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has told David Beckham "the door is open" as he ponders his future following his decision to retire from playing.

"He's very interested in being involved. He believes in the project, he loves the club," Al-Khelaifi said. "He's been here nearly six months, and only announced yesterday that he'll be retiring. We have time to discuss things.

"We'll be talking for the next two weeks, and I honestly hope that we can reach an agreement. I told him the door is open. We'll see if we can sign a deal. I hope we can do that."

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