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Jan 28, 2009

Beckham deal almost inevitable

David Beckham was hailed as a hero, a saviour riding through the mist to raise the profile of soccer in the United States and make the world's game a sport Americans could truly fanaticise about.

In just over a week the adventure will be over when Fabio Capello names the midfielder in his next England squad, thus sending out the clear message that he must return to Europe for his personal sporting ambitions.

Being the bastion of the future of football in the United States is all well in good. Though let's be honest, in truth it's like being a UN Ambassador sent to an emerging region to preach and spread the message of good. It sounds great but there's really not that much substance to it.

The "will he, won't he" saga over David Beckham's future - long term may be a bit of an over statement - has now rumbled on for three months. Ever since his loan to AC Milan was confirmed in October has been a growing probability that his flirtation with football in the United States would be no more than a sojourn.

An impressive start to life in Serie A, culminating with his first goal for the club in a 4-1 hammering of Bologna on Sunday, has not only persuaded the player himself he still has something to offer at the top level of European football but has also had Capello purring. And that's the crucial point.

Capello will be at the San Siro on Wednesday night to see Beckham in action for Milan against Genoa before he names his squad for the international friendly against Spain which takes place in Sevilla's Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on February 11. If Beckham does enough to be selected, and it appears almost certain he has, it will surely push him closer to a permanent exit from the Los Angeles Galaxy. Maybe Beckham will even fork out the £4.5m fee himself.

For Beckham, just like his new team-mate Kaka, the career decision has been almost exclusively sporting. Without doubt the most devoted and passionate England player to pull on the shirt for some time, the former skipper lives to play for his country. He only chose the "project" in Major League Soccer as he felt Steve McClaren had prematurely brought his international career to an end. And now he is back in favour and with an eye on South Africa and the 2010 World Cup the logical choice is to return to Europe.

There is no way the 33-year-old would have been considered for the Spain game without moving to Milan. And the last thing he needs is to be putting his feet up again in November when the battle for places in the final 23 begins to intensify.

It's easy, and a little unfair, to be disparaging about the standard of Major League Soccer but there is no doubt it is not as challenging or competitive as the European game.

Beckham's got the bug again and has the hunger to compete at the top of the sport. And who can blame him.

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