David Beckham remains hopeful of extending his stay with AC Milan but has conceded that the situation is ''out of his hands'' after the MLS' deadline for a permanent deal to be done elapsed on Friday.
The England midfielder, who is on a short-term loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy until March 9, wants to stay in Italy; the Galaxy insist that they expect Beckham to report back to the club when his loan spell ends.
But Beckham has not conceded defeat just yet. "The negotiations are not over. I know that the clubs will talk again over the next couple of weeks. We have to wait and see," he said after Milan's 2-1 defeat to city rivals Inter. ''I have enjoyed playing on the pitch and my performances and it has gone well for me. But there is nothing I can do. It is kind of out of my hands.''
The Galaxy have claimed Beckham would "not be as disgruntled as people say" if he was forced to return on March 9, but the England midfielder made it clear where he sees his future.
"I hope that things will go the way I want them to and I have already said it is my desire to stay at Milan,'' he said. "Having clarified that I want to stay here, it might be difficult to go back to playing in the States."
''I obviously think there is a big chance that the game over there will grow,'' he added. ''I said it from the moment that I went over there that it will take more than five, 10 or 15 years and that's not changed.
''I'm still committed as an ambassador, but for the moment I want to play my football here.''
It is reported Beckham will aim to buy himself out of his contract - which has a clause allowing him to leave without compensation at the end of the MLS 2009 season - if Galaxy do not reach an agreement with Milan.
Despite the ongoing contract situation, the England international has been enjoying his football in Italy, although suffered his first defeat in Rossoneri colours against Inter at the weekend.
Beckham left the field 10 minutes into the second half with a slight hamstring injury but said: ''It was great, a great occasion and one of the biggest games in football and the atmosphere was incredible.
''It is up there with both the derbies in Manchester and Madrid. These are the biggest games and you have got to enjoy them. I am just a bit disappointed to have come off injured and that we have lost.''
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is not worried about Beckham's injury, saying: ''He took a knock in the first half and he tried to continue, but it started to bother him.
''I don't think it is anything bad. He left the field as we wanted three strikers anyway, but he did alright. It was a difficult game for everybody.''
Ancelotti has not given up hope of keeping Beckham beyond the end of his loan spell, although he admits the decision is not up to him.
''I really don't know much about what the club is doing,'' he said. ''All I know is that he is with us until March 9 and we have until then to make a decision about him.''
Ancelotti has all but conceded defeat in the Scudetto title race, admitting that Milan's 11-point advantage is too great to overhaul.
''I am not even thinking about first place anymore,'' he said. ''We have got to make the top three to play in the Champions League next season and that is our objective now.''
Milan could feel hard done by as Inter's first goal from Adriano looked to have been handball and referee Roberto Rosetti turned down a strong appeal for a penalty when Filippo Inzaghi was fouled by Cristian Chivu in the box.
''The big decisions certainly went against us, but Rosetti is experienced,'' he added.
''Referees can get things wrong and I have no problem with that, but it is a shame because the first one was a clear error.''