Fabio Capello has insisted form will be the only factor by which David Beckham is judged.
Beckham has entered into a complicated loan arrangement between the Los Angeles Galaxy and AC Milan which effectively commits the 33-year-old to 15 months' solid football before the World Cup in South Africa next year.
Although there could still be a twist in the tale if Beckham decides to exercise a get-out clause in his Major League Soccer contract in November, the former England skipper has left no-one in any doubt about his desire to play in a fourth World Cup.
However, as he prepares to hand Beckham a record 109th cap against Slovakia next Saturday, Capello has denied having a hand in the midfielder's move to Milan, which was initially for just six weeks but has now been extended to June.
And, while the England coach accepts there is a gulf in standard between Serie A and MLS, he is clear that Beckham has not sealed his place in the long-term future merely by switching clubs.
"I am just looking for the best players,'' said Capello. "The decision about where he plays is a personal one between Beckham, LA Galaxy and AC Milan. That is not my problem.
"The only important thing for me is how well Beckham plays, not the agreement. He is playing well, so if he is fit, he has a chance of being in my next squad. I will decide for certain when the time comes.''
It would be a major surprise if Beckham was not involved, either next week or next year.
Capello clearly views the midfielder's passing ability as an asset he can find nowhere else in his squad.
And, even though he may no longer lay claim to an automatic starting berth, Beckham's contribution will not be discarded lightly given the Italian got his fingers burned so badly at Real Madrid, when he called the former Manchester United player back from exile and was rewarded with the Primera Liga title in 2007.
"It hasn't surprised me how well David is doing at Milan because I know him very well,'' said Capello. "He is a good player. Now with AC Milan he is played in a position which suits his technical characteristics.''
Age should not be used as a barrier either.
Beckham is a virtual rookie alongside Milan captain Paolo Maldini, who is still going strong at 40, while Italy's World Cup-winning skipper, Fabio Cannavaro, has not yet hung up his boots despite reaching the ripe old age of 35.
And Capello threw in the veteran Arsenal back four, crafted by George Graham and enhanced by Arsene Wenger as another example with a more English flavour.
"When I choose a player, age is not important,'' said Capello. "Cannavaro is 35 but he is still picked. I am looking for the player; the man and other things. Not age. Remember the back four of Arsenal? It was not young. It is about performance.''