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Jan, 11, 2007

Beckham agrees five-year $250m LA Galaxy deal

David Beckham will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and join side Los Angeles Galaxy on a £128million ($250 million) five-year deal - which works out at a mere half-a-million pounds a week.

The former England captain will leave Real in June and begin his new career in Major League Soccer in August.

Watch an ESPN interview with David Beckham

Beckham said in a statement: 'This week, Real Madrid asked me to make a decision regarding my future and the offer to extend my contract by a further two seasons.

'After discussing several options with my family and advisers to either stay here at Madrid or join other major British and European clubs, I have decided to join the Los Angeles Galaxy and play in the MLS from August this year.

'I would like to thank the supporters and people of Madrid who have made my family and I feel so welcome in my time here, making this an extremely difficult decision to make.

'I have enjoyed my time in Spain enormously and I am extremely grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity to play for such a great team and their amazing fans.

'I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world's most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own.

'For the rest of this season I will continue to give 100% to my coach, team mates and fans as I believe Fabio Capello will bring this club and its supporters the success they truly deserve.'

In terms of finances it is a mega deal and compares with the biggest in mainstream US sports American football and baseball.

The MLS have recently changed their salary cap rules to allow sides to make 'marquee signings' of top international stars. The Beckham deal will see the 31-year-old benefit directly from all his image rights and related sponsorship deals which in the past have had to be shared with his club.

He added on Sky Sports News: 'Soccer in America is the biggest played sport up to a certain age. That's where I want to take it (football in the USA) to another level.

'I think potentially it (football) can go higher in America than anyone can believe.

'There are so many great sports in the USA. There are so many kids playing American Football and basketball. Soccer is huge all around the world except in America and that's where I want to make a difference with the kids.

'I don't want to go out to America at 34 and people saying `he's only there to get the money'. I want to hopefully build a club and team that have a lot of potential and that excites me.'

The Real Madrid future of the world's most famous footballer had been shrouded in doubt, especially after coach Fabio Capello this week dropped him from the squad - the first time it had happened to Beckham since he moved from Manchester United in July 2003.

During those three and a half years, Beckham has seen six different coaches appointed while Real have failed to win a single trophy.

Capello's arrival at the start of the season could have heralded a new era for Beckham, who was dropped from new England boss Steve McClaren's squad in August, but instead he found himself often sidelined.

Real had been very keen to keep the midfielder - his marketing power remains a huge draw to fans across the globe - but after talks today he announced he will be moving to Los Angeles.

Beckham admitted it had been a tough decision and insisted he had no regrets about leaving Manchester United for Spain in July 2003, despite Real having failed to win a single honour since then.

He added: 'It has been a huge decision of mine and my family.

'We'll have been living in Spain for four years at the end of this season and I have played for two of the biggest clubs in the world. I have played at the highest level for 15 years and now I think I need another challenge.

'I've no regrets - I have never had any throughout my life and my career,

'To play in the white shirt for four years was an honour. To play with Zinedine Zidane was the biggest honour I have had in my football career, and it was also an honour to play with players such as Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. For me, there are no regrets.

A statement from the club read: 'Real Madrid have had a meeting with representatives of David Beckham this morning in the offices of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

'After this meeting both parties have decided that David will not extend his present contract with the club, which finishes on June 30, 2007.'

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