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Milan hopeful over Beckham stay

By Simon Austin

David Beckham
Beckham is due to return to LA Galaxy on 9 March

AC Milan are optimistic David Beckham will be able to extend his two-month loan with them from LA Galaxy.

The 33-year-old played 88 minutes of Sunday's 2-2 draw with Roma and Milan have been hugely impressed with him.

Milan technical director Leonardo told BBC Sport: "It was a fantastic match for David and he gave us a lot. We are very happy with him.

"We have an agreement that he will stay for two months (but) everything is possible. We will see."

The 2009 MLS season gets under way on 19 March, with LA Galaxy kicking off against DC United on 22 March.

Leonardo, a World Cup-winner with Brazil in 1994, had only expected Beckham to be able to play for an hour against Roma with the former England captain lacking recent match practice.

It was Beckham's first competitive match for three months since the end of the MLS season.

"We thought perhaps he could play for 45 or 60 minutes, but he played the whole match in a very important way," said Leonardo.

BBC Sport's Simon Austin
"When he finished, he was still very fit - his condition was perfect. The preparation he did during our trip to Dubai earlier this month was very important.

"It gave him time for conditioning training and we were able to test and assess him. His fitness is very, very good.

"To play against Roma in his first match was very tough but he ran, fought and defended."

Leonardo said Beckham, who was replaced late on by former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini, had quickly fitted in with the other players at the San Siro.

"Obviously we knew about him before, but when you work with someone every day you get to know them much better," he said.

"David is a very, very smart guy. He adjusted quickly and was open to new things. The other players accepted him in a very positive way, it was fantastic.

"We have a week before our next match and I think David will be very important for us while he is here."

Milan are third in Serie A, nine points behind leaders Inter, but Leonardo thinks Beckham can help them climb the table.

The agreement is to go back to LA on 8 or 9 March... we'll enjoy it and then see

David Beckham
"We have some great players here. Pato was fantastic against Roma, scoring two goals, and Kaka came to the fore in the second half.

"When you also consider players of the quality of Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and David, you see we can grow together as a team."

Beckham himself refused to be drawn on whether he would stay at Milan beyond his two-month loan.

"The agreement is to go back to LA on 8 or 9 March and we'll enjoy it until then and then see," he told BBC Sport.

The midfielder, who will hope to equal Bobby Moore's record of 108 England caps against Spain in February, was delighted with his form on his first competitive start for Milan.

"It was great," he said. "I didn't expect to start, but I enjoyed it. It was great to be out there with some of the players in that team.

"I felt great, a lot better and stronger than I thought I was going to feel. I was glad the manager kept me on for as long as he did because obviously I need time on the field to get match fitness."

And speaking ahead of Monday's Fifa world player of the year ceremony in Zurich, Brazilian star Kaka said of his new team-mate: "David has shown that he is a player ready to run the extra mile.

"The first matches showed quite clearly what his qualities are and his passing ability and his capacity to play well.

"Perhaps these first two months will lead to six months or to one year, to more contracts. I certainly would like to play more with him."

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see also
European football photos
10 Jan 09 |  Europe
Beckham 'may not return to MLS'
09 Jan 09 |  Europe
Beckham makes AC Milan debut
06 Jan 09 |  Europe
Milan welcomes Beckham
21 Dec 08 |  Europe

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