AC Milan's initial offer to the LA Galaxy for David Beckham has been rejected.
And the Italian club's bid will have to be substantially improved if the Galaxy are to let him join the Rossoneiri permanently.
That's according to the chief executive of Galaxy's owners AEG.
Speaking for the first time on Beckham's wish for a permanent move to Milan, Tim Leiweke told the Los Angeles Times that an offer received by the Galaxy had been too low and time was running out to meet the Major League Soccer outfit's valuation.
Beckham on Wednesday expressed his desire to convert his current short-term loan with Milan into a permanent move and walk out on a five-year contract he signed with the Galaxy in 2007.
"We need to end the distractions, the circus and the zoo,'' Leiweke said. "We just received an offer. It was rejected.''
The AEG chief executive said keeping Beckham was still a viable option if Milan failed to match the Galaxy's asking price, estimated in various reports at between 10 million and 20m (£6.7m and £13.5m), and if it was in the best interests of the team.
"If David ultimately is an asset for this team, we want him back,'' Leiweke said.
"If David ultimately has a hunger and a desire to come help us make the impact on the pitch that we wanted to make with him but haven't done yet, then he's an important member of this team and our intention is to bring him back.
"Clearly, if David's in a position where he wants to finish the season in Milan, and Milan in turn compensates the Galaxy so that we can suffer no damages to our fans or to our team, then we'll take a look at it.
"But we have made it very clear to them that we expect David back here March 9. They agree and understand we own the contract. They understand the only way we do this is if, when this is all said and done, the Galaxy benefits.
"If the Galaxy comes out better without David than with David, then we'll take a look at it.''
Leiweke added that his organisation was in talks with Beckham, who was on Saturday set to play for Milan against Reggina in Serie A, but ultimately AEG and the Galaxy were in the driving seat.
"We understand his infatuation with playing on the world's most popular club team right now, and we understand his trying to mentally get around the idea of coming back to play with a team that didn't make the play-offs in MLS last year,'' Leiweke said.
"That said, David and us actually are talking. He has never forced our hand on anything. This is not a legal conversation and has never been a legal conversation. He does not have lawyers looking at the contract.
"David has made it very clear that if our decision is to bring him back here, he will return. Period.
"Last time I checked, we're the ones that have the contract. So the decision as to where David's going to play this year is as much ours as anyone's.
"If David comes back, it will be because there were decisions made by all involved and he'll accept that. I don't think he'll be as disgruntled as the media makes it out to be.''