Beckham a distraction, Real eyes Spanish league

Madrid players have said Beckham's $41 million move from Manchester United has hindered their pre-match preparations.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
  • Total Shares


David Beckham may still be dominating headlines two days after his transfer to Real Madrid, but distraction is the last thing his new club needs as it heads into Sunday's title decider against Athletic de Bilbao. Madrid, two points clear of Real Sociedad at the top of the standings, will lift the Spanish League crown for the 29th time if it defeats the Basque club in the final round of matches. If sixth-place Bilbao, still battling with Barcelona for a UEFA Cup place, manages to snatch at least a point at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Sociedad will win the championship for the first time since 1982 but only if it defeats No 11 Atletico de Madrid. If the two teams finish level on points, Sociedad would take the title on head-to-head results. The situation is almost a replica of the league of 23 years ago, when Madrid hosted Bilbao and Sociedad played Atletico in the final round. Madrid took the title. Players distracted Madrid players have acknowledged this week that the timing of Beckham's $41 million move from Manchester United has hindered their pre-match preparations. "Beckham mania is everywhere and it's much harder to concentrate. It's not good that people are talking more about Beckham than the title," goalkeeper Iker Casillas said. The future of Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque, whose contract ends this month, is reported to hang on Sunday's result. A decision over whether to offer del Bosque a new contract may be discussed at a board meeting on Monday. Beckham apologizes Aspects of his transfer from Manchester United upset David Beckham but the England captain says he's still excited about the prospect of playing for Real Madrid. "Of course, I would have been happier if the transfer had been done differently," Beckham said. "But I don't want to talk about that side of it," added Beckham. The transfer "is a done deal know and I'm looking forward to it." All the speculation about his move was an unnecessary distraction to his new teammates, Beckham conceded. "I want to apologize to the (Real) players. I didn't want this to be a distraction for them over their last two games of the season." Beckham's manager announced the move while the England midfielder and his wife Victoria were en route to Japan to start an Asian promotional tour. It's a dream "I'm joining a club that is massive," said Beckham. "If I was going to leave Manchester United you've got to join a club that is massive and this is a dream. "I think the Spanish League is one of the best leagues in the world along with the Premiership."
Beckham brushed aside concerns that his move might jeopardize his position as England captain. "I wouldn't have done it if it affected my England career," Beckham said. "I spoke to Sven-Goran Ericksson about it and he said it didn't matter which club I played for." Madrid, the nine-time European Champions Cup winner, already has Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul Gonzalez and Roberto Carlos on contract before it acquired Beckham. Beckham will receive an estimated annual salary of $7.08 million plus bonuses. Message to fans Once he gets to Spain, Beckham said he plans to send a message to his Manchester United fans. "Once I get there in July I will do a message for the Manchester United fans," said Beckham. "Playing there was a huge part of my career and to just leave without saying anything wouldn't be right. I'll miss the fans and the players I've grown up with. I've got a lot of special friends there. But I'm joining Real and that's as exciting as it gets." Beckham's first match for Real Madrid could be back in Asia, with the Spanish club scheduled to play in China on August 2 before heading to Japan. (AP)