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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Beckham faces Real fight
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Beckham faces a fight for selection

David Beckham has joined the ranks of Real Madrid's self-styled galacticos by making his 25m move to the Bernabeu.

The galacticos are the galaxy of superstars assembled under the banner of Europe's most successful and glamorous club.

And while Beckham may not exactly be a member of the rank and file at Real, he will not be the shining star in the style of his career at Old Trafford.

Steve McManaman has discovered the delights of bench-warming at the Bernabeu and Beckham must fight for his right to join the glitziest party in world football.

Beckham must prove he is worthy of the new company he keeps - starting by actually nailing down a place in the team.

And the clearest message of the battle he faces came from Real Madrid's local hero Raul, who made it clear he had no plans to hand over the number 7 shirt Beckham's marketing men usually demand.

Beckham has been employed on Manchester United's right flank for almost all of his career, unchallenged and peerless among his team-mates.

In Real, the not inconsiderable figure of Luis Figo may block that path into the hearts of the hard to please Madrid followers.

Figo has already been assured he will be playing by Real's hierarchy, but as those who heard them deny all interest in Beckham will know, they speak with fork tongue when it suits them.

And even if Beckham eyes up what he has privately suggested is his favourite central midfield position, he is not guaranteed automatic selection.

Real's game plan revolves around the majestic Zinedine Zidane and the supply line he provides for Ronaldo and Raul.

And while Frenchman Claude Makelele does not have the superstar profile of his colleagues, he is regarded as hugely important to Real because his ability to play the anchor role.

As for McManaman, he may well decide it is time to return home to the Premiership as his chance of starting regularly for Real now rank somewhere between slim and none.

So where will Beckham fit in to Real's grand plan?

Beckham may find himself the beneficiary of Figo's increasingly erratic injury record to earn a place in familiar territory on the right flank.

If not, he could be looking at a role on the right of centre in midfield, but as more of a holding player to give Zidane free rein to weave his magic.

One thing is for certain.

If Beckham spent his latter days fighting for his place at Manchester United, the heat of battle will be just as intense in the Spanish sunshine.

Will David Beckham be a hit at Real Madrid?
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A Real test for Beckham
18 Jun 03  |  Europe

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