Thursday, October 30, 2008

Beckham's Milan Dream Comes True

ROME (AFP) — England international David Beckham will join AC Milan on loan in January, the Italian club said on Thursday.

The former England captain will join the team from January 7 when the Serie A season restarts following its winter break.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliano had revealed earlier in the day that he was due for talks with Beckham's lawyers, who were in Milan, and now a deal has been agreed.

"Beckham has become a reality, it's no longer a dream," announced Galliani triumphantly.

Beckham is due to be unveiled officially on December 21 and eight days later will head out with the team to Dubai for a training camp.

He could then make his Serie A debut against against AS Roma in the Italian capital on January 11, however he won't be staying beyond a two- to three-month loan period.

"No-one has ever spoken about a permanent transfer, it's not a practical hypothesis because he has a contract with Galaxy who don't want to let him go, they (Beckham and his wife) like it there and he has a myriad of sponsorship contracts," added Galliani.

"Beckham's not coming here to mess around but to play football and he's fully aware of that."

The seven-time European champions first revealed the possibility of the loan move last week after rumours circulated that Beckham would train with the Italians during America's Major League Soccer off-season.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder currently plays for Los Angeles Galaxy, whom he joined 18 months ago, but needs to keep playing over winter to avoid losing match fitness and his place in the England squad.

England's Italian boss Fabio Capello has previously made it clear to Beckham that if he is not playing he won't be part of the England set-up.

Beckham has 107 caps for England and is the third most capped player in the country's history.

This moves means the golden boy of British football will have played for arguably the biggest club in the three biggest leagues in the world: England, Spain and Italy.

Source: AFP

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ferguson Not Surprised at Beckham’s Proposed Move

MANCHESTER, England (AP)—Alex Ferguson isn’t surprised that David Beckham could return to European soccer on a loan deal because he believes the former England captain is used to a higher standard than is played in Major League Soccer.

“It is hardly a surprise,” said the Manchester United manager, who sold Beckham to Real Madrid five years ago. “Going to the United States does not get you the kind of football he is used to. It is not the right level of football, therefore coming back into the mainstream of the game is not a surprise.”

Beckham could move to AC Milan from the Los Angeles Galaxy in January, although the MLS team wants him back before its season starts in March. There is speculation, however, that Milan may try and turn the loan deal into a full transfer.

Beckham has played for the Galaxy for two seasons and the team has failed each time to reach the playoffs.

With the MLS season coming to an end, Beckham needs to continue playing competitive soccer or he will lose his place in the England squad.

England coach Fabio Capello, who used to be at Milan, sent Beckham on as a late substitute in the team’s four World Cup qualifying victories and is adamant that he will only select players who are in competitive action.

Real Madrid president Roman Calderon, who sold Beckham to the Galaxy in 2007, said Beckham can still be influential.

“He is a player who can give a lot to the club he signs for,” Calderon said in London.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Report: Beckham To Train With AC Milan

MILAN, Italy (AP) — David Beckham will train with AC Milan beginning in January to stay in shape after the Major League Soccer season ends, Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported.

Beckham wants to remain fit so that he can be called up to play in England’s World Cup qualifying matches. England coach Fabio Capello has said he will not pick players who are not playing in a league championship.

“I’m in agreement with this and don’t see any downside,” the paper quoted Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti as saying. “We will get to know a true champion.”

The MLS season ends in November, after which Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy will travel to Australia and New Zealand in December to play exhibitions.

“Ancelotti and I will be waiting for Beckham at Milanello,” Milan vice president Adriano Galliani told Gazzetta, referring to his team’s training grounds. “You all want to know if we will buy him? We’ll talk about that in the future.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Italy Turns To The Youth As The Way Forward

By Carlo Garganese,

Ask any non-Italian football fan for their view on the Azzurri, and more often than not you will be greeted with a response, something along the lines of “old team.” While sometimes these kinds of charges are fuelled by jealousy and ignorance, there can be no doubting that in recent times they have been accompanied by an element of truth.

At Euro 2008, 14 of Italy’s original 23-man squad were over the age of 30, while the team that took to the field in the opening game against Holland was the oldest starting 11 in the history of the competition at 31 years and 56 days.

It has been stated on numerous occasions, since the Euros, that the time has now come for the Italian national team to turn the page and begin a new youthful era ahead of the 2010 World Cup. However, there were fears that Marcello Lippi was set to ignore these appeals, as his first couple of squads since returning to the helm were mainly composed of players who helped him win the World Cup in Germany two years ago.

The results were not great. Although Italy drew 2-2 with Austria in a friendly, before winning both of their opening World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus (2-1) and Georgia (2-0), the performances in these games were far from impressive, and indeed the Azzurri really did look like an “old team.”

Lippi finally rang the changes ahead of the double-header with Bulgaria and Montenegro. Mature or underachieving players such as Alessandro Del Piero and Andrea Barzagli were dropped from the squad, while four fresh faces were included – Christian Maggio, Fabiano Santacroce, Giuseppe Rossi and Simone Pepe. The youthful Riccardo Montolivo, Daniele Bonera and Antonio Nocerino all returned, too.

The Italy starting XI against Bulgaria on Saturday night had an average age of 27 and included debutant Pepe as well as the relatively inexperienced Montolivo and Andrea Dossena, who had just four caps between them. Rossi was also thrown on for his first cap midway through the second half. These were bold moves by Lippi when you consider that an away Bulgaria game could be considered, along with Ireland in Dublin, as Italy’s toughest match in the entire Group 8 calendar.

The results were very promising. Although a rather dour and uneventful game ended in a goalless draw, Italy, who was always going to be happy with a point, was almost always in control. The Azzurri looked solid, organized and authoritative in defense and midfield, and they were never in any danger of conceding a goal. In fact, Bulgaria did not create a chance all night, and goalkeeper Marco Amelia did not make a save until the 87th minute.

Compare Italy’s display on Saturday to its last away game in September when it was torn apart at times by Cyprus and was extremely lucky to win, and the improvements are marked. Granted, Italy’s fitness is far superior now than it was a month ago, but you must also take into consideration the fact that Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Grosso, Mauro Camoranesi, as well as a number of others including the blossoming Angelo Palombo, were injured for the trip to Sofia.

The fact that a youthful Italy could assert itself so well in a difficult environment is surely proof that the way forward now for Lippi over the coming months is to retain most of the young players. Italy is in a relatively weak group, so now is the time to prepare the youngsters mentally for South Africa.

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