The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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It’s for real, finally

London: Manchester United are preparing to sell England captain David Beckham to Real Madrid, it was widely reported Tuesday.

Barcelona’s new president Joan Laporta claims he struck a £30 million agreement with United but newspapers in Britain said the English champions were set to accept a £26 million bid from Real because they recognise Beckham is determined to go to Madrid.

Pictures in British newspapers showed United chief executive Peter Kenyon meeting Pedro Lopez, an envoy from Madrid, in Sardinia last Friday to discuss the matter.

Sandro Rosell, Laporta’s sporting director at Barcelona, told Daily Mirror: “It’s like when you propose to a woman — you can’t make her marry you when she says no.

“You can’t force someone to do something if they don’t want to.”

However, Laporta told a news conference on Tuesday that he was urging Beckham to become the leader of a resurgent Catalan side.

The new Barcelona president, though, denied he had set a deadline for the England captain to make up his mind.

“We want to get this sorted and if necessary move on,” Laporta said. “We think it is a fantastic offer that we are making to David Beckham to be a leader of our team.”

Laporta has already agreed terms with Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber. He is also chasing Brazil World Cup star Ronaldinho who plays for French club Paris St Germain.

“Barcelona is a fantastic city and his quality of life would be excellent, but I recognise that it is a difficult decision for him and his family,” Laporta said.

Joahn Cruyff said Beckham would be wiser to move to Barcelona who were ready to build the team around him. “At Real he would be one of many stars,” he said.

Meanwhile, reports said the 28-year-old Beckham, who left Tuesday for a promotional tour of Asia, would sign a five-year deal worth £90,000 a week.

United would not consider Real’s Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo in part-exchange but were keen on getting their French defensive midfielder Claude Makelele.

United are desperate to offload Beckham this summer to allow manager Alex Ferguson to use the cash to strengthen his squad. The depressed transfer market, coupled with United’s determination to sell Becks, will allow Real to sign the most marketable name in world football at a bargain price.

One United insider said: “There’s no doubt we’re going to have to compromise with Real Madrid and drop our asking price if we are to raise the funds we need.”

However, Beckham will have to forget getting his hands on the number seven shirt if he moves to the Bernabeu. Spanish striker Raul has a clause that he must wear that shirt written into his contract.

Raul told Sun: “The number seven shirt at Real Madrid to me is something magical and wearing it is a great honour. I will always fight to keep and wear the number seven at the greatest club in the world and I will never give it up, no matter who comes here.”

But one of Beckham’s biggest commercial contracts is a £3 million endorsement for a children’s clothing range at Marks and Spencer which is branded 07 db.

Raul was one of four Real stars to meet the club’s sporting director Jorge Valdano last week to protest at Beckham’s possible arrival and warn that he will not be allowed to be a dressing room prima donna.

Ferguson is chasing a goalkeeper to replace French international Fabien Barthez, a central defender, midfielder and playmaker.


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