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Nov 11, 2010

Beckham wants deal to play until he is 40

David Beckham's desire is to play on until he is 40. His present LA Galaxy contract has only one year left and the former England captain is desperate to continue playing far beyond that.

Beckham will be available on a free transfer in 2011, and that may put some of the richest clubs around the world on red alert about the possibility of recruiting the most famous face in global football.

Beckham will be 36 when he becomes a free agent, and to put that into perspective, Paul Scholes is still setting the Premier League alight at that age with Manchester United.

A return to the Premier League cannot be ruled out, although ESPNsoccernet understands Beckham would not consider Manchester City, irrespective of how much they might offer him, out of his respect for Manchester United.

Beckham always maintained he could never envisage the day he would play against United - though he did so twice last season for AC Milan - but he might reconsider if he felt a return to English football would push Fabio Capello, or indeed his successor, into looking again at his international prospects.

The Beckham family have settled in LA, so extending his Galaxy contract or even a switch to another US club cannot be ruled out.

Within his agreement with Simon Fuller's 19 management company and the MLS, Beckham can buy an existing, or build a new, franchise in the United States, but ESPNsoccernet understands he will put that on hold to extend his playing career until he hits the 40 mark.

Then he will re-open discussions on whether to become a football club owner in the States - something that appeals once he stops playing, but not before.

There is sure to be a clamour for his services from Australia to the Middle East to Japan, and a number of elite world superstars have been lured to the oil-rich Middle East in recent years.

But Beckham is more likely to want to play at a higher level to push his England chances for one final chance, and would be happy to be a bit-part player on the bench, such is his passion and desire to be part of the national team.

That would mean either a return to Spain, Italy, or indeed England, where Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, who gave him his break back in the Milan team at the San Siro, might fancy a vastly experienced player to help the development of emerging young talents at the Bridge.

That is something that might appeal to Arsene Wenger, and most certainly to Harry Redknapp, providing he could also offer Champions League football.

In the short-term, Beckham might test the water with a short-term loan in January to enhance his England prospects, but Galaxy are far less likely to be compliant this time around, as last season Beckham returned injured with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Before he was injured and missed the World Cup in South Africa, Beckham had this to say about how long he wanted to continue to play: "I would love to still be playing in five years' time, but we will have to wait and see. I definitely think it is possible if I look after myself and carry on doing what I am doing."

The Achilles injury that deprived him of his place in the World Cup squad and has left him on 115 caps was thought to be more likely to end his career, but Beckham has returned to action and this week is fighting for a place in the MLS Cup final with Galaxy, a testimony to his rediscovered fitness and form.

He has rejected Fabio Capello's offer to turn out against France at Wembley on Wednesday as a farewell game, instead telling him he will continue to make himself available for his country, if and when he is needed.

Beckham knows that Capello will not pick him unless he is playing at a higher level of football. Even his starring performance in his last Galaxy game has not convinced Capello to pick him as a legitimate squad member for the France friendly, where the coach will continue push forwards with his policy of giving young players a chance.

Now Beckham is back on track, his desire remains firm not to hang up his boots until forced to do so, and one more contract awaits. The big question is where. Beckham won't be short of options, and his decision will again create headlines around the world.

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