posted on Jun, 7 2003 @ 04:22 PM
Manchester United have confirmed that clubs from Italy and Spain have "expressed a firm interest" in signing David Beckham.
Months of frenzied speculation have finally come to a head with United's admission that they have received firm interest in the England skipper from
leading clubs on the continent.
"Manchester United can confirm today that clubs from Italy and Spain have expressed a firm interest in signing David Beckham,'' revealed United in a
"David's advisers SFX have also been approached by clubs independently and we are in regular and close contact with them regarding the status on those
discussions, which are ongoing.''
After it was revealed on Friday that United officials wanted to bring forward talks on extending a contract which still has two years to run, this
latest development in the long-running Beckham saga ensures a final decision on his future will be made over the next few weeks.
With Champions League winners AC Milan, mighty Real Madrid and Catalan giants Barcelona believed to be lining up to pounce should the world's highest
profile player decide he wants to sever his Old Trafford ties, Beckham clearly has a huge dilemma in front of him as he makes his way back from his
current tour of the United States.
And the indications are that the 28-year-old will cut the umbilical cord and pursue his long-held dream of plying his trade on the continent.
For, while United insist they do not want Beckham to go, the impending arrival of Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho, plus the on-going pursuit of
Leeds wide man Harry Kewell leave the midfielder in little doubt that places in Sir Alex Ferguson's side will be at a premium next term.
By leaving Beckham out of key games against Arsenal and Real Madrid at the back end of last season, Ferguson has already proved he is willing to
operate without the Londoner's supreme passing skills and the fiery Scot has left little doubt about his distaste for the cavalcade of media attention
which accompany the player's every move.
Merely by pointing out rival clubs have approached SFX, United have shown their willingness to think about selling Beckham at the right price.
And, the announcement, after weeks of refusing to comment on the mounting speculation, also means that if Beckham does leave, he will be the one seen
to have made the fatal move.
It also confirms that Beckham has more than just the single option of a switch to Barcelona, which was dependent on Joan Laporta overcoming the odds
to win the club presidency battle.
Given Barca are not even certain of a place in the UEFA Cup next season, United's fellow Champions League contenders Real and AC Milan look to be
clear favourites to acquire his services.