Saturday, 20 December 2008

[Mercato] Beckham unveiled at Milan

David Beckham said he is already falling in love with AC Milan after he was officially unveiled ahead of a three-month loan deal from the Los Angeles Galaxy.

David Beckham & Adriano GallianiThe 33-year-old former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder joins Milan on loan until June 2009, but the Serie A giants and the player confirmed that he will return to the United States on March 9.

Beckham, who negotiated the move in a bid to remain match fit and stay in the thoughts of England manager Fabio Capello, arrived in Italy with his family this morning before undergoing a statutory medical at the Milanello training headquarters.

"I'm really happy to be here, it is a great honour," Beckham said at a press conference in Milan. "I'm joining the most successful club in the world; it's a fortunate period in my career.

"Obviously, my favourite team will always be Manchester United. Then I fell in love with Madrid and now I'm starting to fall in love with Milan as well.

"During my career I have been able to play with the greatest team in England, the greatest team in Spain and now the the greatest in Italy − it's great.

"I'm here to work hard and have fun. I don't want to impose my presence on the team. I know it will be difficult but I'm here to help my team-mates as much as I can."

Beckham, who began the press conference by addressing the assembled international media with a few words in Italian, will be in the stands to watch his new team take on Udinese at the San Siro on Sunday evening.

He will then travel with the Rossoneri on December 29 to their winter training camp in Dubai where a friendly against Hamburg has been organised on January 6. He could potentially make his competitive debut when the Serie A season resumes with a trip to Roma on January 11.

Beckham's move to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid last year was perceived at the time as a step backwards to a league that has still to establish itself as big-hitter on the world stage, and the former England captain admitted that a move to Milan represented a move back into the mainstream.

"Moving to America was a big step for me because there was a lot of people who were criticising the move, but I sill believe it was a move where I wanted to challenge myself and I was able to challenge myself in different ways," he said.

"But I have always said that I would always miss playing at the highest level. I'm not saying that in America they won't get to the highest level - it will take time and it will happen. But with five months off during the season I personally can't do that.

"I needed to be able to be playing top-flight football to keep myself fit, to keep myself in contention for other things that are going on."

Beckham added he was delighted to join what is already a glittering array of talent in the Milan dressing room, and he insists he does expect not to be an automatic inclusion in coach Carlo Ancelotti's line-up.

"I wouldn't have taken this opportunity if I didn't think I could help the team," he said. "It's not about anything else apart from the football. I've come here to play with some of the best players in the world.

"To be able to step on to the training field with [Ricardo] Kaka, [Andrea] Pirlo, [Paolo] Maldini, Ronaldinho... there's so many players that I've always watched and played against but never played with.

"There's some great players out there and I don't expect to walk in on the first day and be starting in the team, it doesn't happen like that. I'm going work hard in training, I'm going to get my fitness - because I need to - and then once I'm fit, hopefully I can get some time in the team, and hopefully help."

Beckham, who will wear the number 32 shirt, knows he will face a stern test in Italy but insists he is relishing the challenge.

"Its going to be very tough," he continued. "It's a loan spell so it's not like I'm going to be here for a few years. It's all about me coming in and getting on with it, fitting in and being one of the lads.

"I've always been a team player and that's what I intend to do at AC Milan."

Beckham's loan deal will end on March 9, with his last game set to be a match against Atalanta at the San Siro the previous day.

During his stay, Milan have ten Serie A matches scheduled as well as a two-legged UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie with Werder Bremen. On top of the friendly with Hamburg in the UAE in January, Milan will also travel to face Glasgow Rangers on February 4.

Earlier Milan vice-President Adriano Galliani reiterated that Beckham will definitely be returning to the MLS in March but revealed the two parties could reunite in the future.

"His first game will be the one against Roma on January 11 and his last the one at Atalanta on March 8," Galliani told Milan Channel. "However, the door will be always open for him in the future."

However, he added: "There are contracts, an infinite series of legal writing... taking Beckham on loan has been a very difficult operation, seeing as the player's registration is with Major League Soccer."

Meanwhile, coach Ancelotti added: "Beckham's signing is very important for us. He is a great professional and can cover three different roles in midfield. I'm sure he can be very helpful in the ten games we will have him here."

Source: Various news agencies

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