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Mar, 7, 2009

Beckham's extended stay in Italy confirmed

David Beckham has confirmed a deal is in place which will allow him to divide his time between AC Milan and the Los Angeles Galaxy this year.

"I'm really grateful to the LA Galaxy and AC Milan for making this dream deal happen," the England midfielder said on Sunday.

"The perfect result for 2009 would be for me to help Milan to reach the Champions League and for the LA Galaxy to make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup."

A Galaxy statement said the deal "has been funded jointly by Milan and the player himself".

The 33-year-old joined Milan on a two-month loan in January and had been due to return to Galaxy on Monday. However, the original deal technically had to be until June meaning the clubs could now agree to a new deal outside the transfer window.

Milan said in a statement Beckham would now stay at the club until June 30, before returning to Los Angeles. However, neither club made any mention of what would happen at the end of the U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) season in November.

The Rossoneri had been hoping to take him back at the end of the year, when he has a clause in his reported five-year $250 million Galaxy contract allowing him to leave.

"Much has been written and said but, all along it has been our intention to keep David Beckham as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy," said Tim Leiweke, president of club owner AEG.

"We are pleased he is returning and at the same time, we feel it is important to allow him to finish his run in Milan," he said in the Galaxy statement.

Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani said that Beckham, who moved to Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007, would be giving up "a mountain of money" to make the deal go through.

"A lot of players show their affection just with words. David Beckham is one of the very few who has shown it with deeds," AC Milan chairman Adriano Galliani said Sunday on Italian state television.

"I won't cite any numbers, but I can say that the player will stay with us until June. He has made an incredible economic commitment, paying a lot of money from his own pocket."

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed. The Galaxy had sought at least $10 million for the outright purchase of Beckham, but AC Milan officials had initially offered $3 million.

The two sides were negotiating for weeks and agreed on the loan extension hours before it was due to expire after AC Milan's game Sunday. A Milan source, who said Beckham's last game for the Italians would be at Fiorentina on May 31, added the club had paid less than five million euros ($6.32 million).

"The obvious [reason for staying at Milan] is giving me the chance to play in the 2010 World Cup," Beckham told The Associated Press-affiliated SNTV. "I personally have to do everything I can do to be involved in that. Everyone knows how passionate I am about playing for my country and, if it gives me a better chance of being involved in that squad, I'll do anything possible to make that happen."

Beckham, who had expressed a wish to stay with Milan full time after a good start to his career in Italy, was nonetheless pleased with the agreement.

"It allows me to play for AC Milan and the LA Galaxy in the same year, and at the same time to continue my commitment to develop soccer in the United States, which is something I am passionate about," he said.

"My family is happy and settled and will remain in LA."

The world's most marketable player joined Milan in a bid to safeguard his England place during the long U.S. close season from October to March.

The plan worked and the former Manchester United winger equalled Bobby Moore's England outfield record of 108 caps when he played in last month's friendly defeat in Spain.

Milan, third in Serie A and out of the UEFA Cup, tried to buy him outright but could not agree a fee with Galaxy after weeks of wrangling.

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