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Beckham hints at move away.

David Beckham has admitted that he will be happy to leave Manchester United if the club want him to go.

With speculation mounting over a possible move to Spanish giants Barcelona, the 28-year-old midfielder has spoken out in the American press while on holiday in the US.

With Real Madrid AC Milan and Inter also said to be interested, Beckham told the Los Angeles Times: "These rumours have been going on for two months now.

"About a month ago, it was Real Madrid and now it's Barcelona. But I'm a Man United player. I'm contracted to Man United for another two or three years, I think. As long as they want me, then I'll stay.

"But I've never said that I'd never move away from Manchester, and I've never said that I'd end my career there.

"There will always be changes at a team like Man United. With all the big teams there's always going to be changes - because you look to strengthen the team whether you win three trophies or you win one.

"There's always going to be changes."

However, while admitting that he could be on his way out of Old Trafford, Beckham was quick to dismiss suggestions that a rift with Sir Alex Ferguson had anything to do with the current transfer speculation.

"Despite what people say about me and Sir Alex Ferguson, he's been a father figure for me," he added.

"I've been at Man United for 12 years now and without him I wouldn't be the player or the person that I am today, because he had the confidence when I was 18 years old to put me in the first team and a number of other young players in the first team.

"Of course you have your ups and downs with any boss in any job, but it's just a little bit more highlighted with me and him."

AC Milan are now seemingly out of the race to sign the pounds 30m-rated England captain after club owner, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, categorically stated there were "better ways of spending money".

Director Ariedo Braida, in charge of the football side of the club, added: "We are absolutely not interested. They are just fantasy rumours that have been reported by the Press. He is a great player, but there is nothing in it."

Inter general director Massimo Moretti was more positive though, saying: "Beckham is a great player. There is an interest because the best players always appeal to Inter Milan."

Real Madrid have been linked with Beckham for some time but the terms on offer at the Bernabeu may not appeal to the midfielder.

Emilio Butragueno, Real's deputy general manager, said: "Beckham is an icon for soccer in the world right now, there's no question about that.

"David Beckham is a company in himself. But would we sign him just for that? We are a soccer team first so there are other things to bear in mind."

That leaves Barcelona as front-runners for his signature and an agent working for the Catalan club today said that terms had been agreed with United and he expected talks with the player to start in the next few days.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2003
Words:532
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