The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wenger predicts break-up

London: The size of the transfer fee Real Madrid paid Manchester United for David Beckham was lowered by the apparent rift between the player and United manager Alex Ferguson, according to Arsene Wenger.

Beckham agreed to a £ 25 million ($ 41.76 million) move to Real Madrid this week after a difficult final season at Old Trafford when his relationship with Ferguson became strained.

Wenger, whose team finished runners-up to United in the Premier League last season, told Eurosport TV: “I think that the personal problems (which resulted in) Manchester United’s desire to transfer Beckham at any price certainly lowered the fee.”

The price Real paid United for Beckham, the world’s most marketable player, was £5 million less than United paid Leeds United for defender Rio Ferdinand a year ago. However, since then the soccer transfer market has plummeted.

Wenger, who is in France watching the Confederations Cup, also suggested Beckham’s sale could spark the break-up of the United squad.

“One of the things that made Manchester great is going, and with the togetherness that that group of players had, and the things they had achieved, well, it is the beginning of a break-up for that group. For me, it was a surprise,” said Wenger.

Meanwhile, if Real miss out on the league title this weekend it may take the players a while to forgive Beckham and the club for the way they have handled the transfer, adds a report from Madrid. Real players were furious at the timing of the transfer.

“Raul was one of several players doorstepped at home,” Real’s English midfielder Steve McManaman wrote in his column in the Daily Telegraph.

“A few were upset that their wives, too, were being approached. In the last two years Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo arrived with nothing like this fuss.”

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