LONDON: So, now we know where the future of David Beckham lies. Forget Manchester, forget Madrid. Welcome to Hollywood.
While all the speculation rumbles on about what England’s most famous footballer will be doing this summer - whether or not he will be leaving United for Real - the fresh revelations are out about a new step in his career.
Never mind him having to match the ability of Ronaldo or Zinedine Zidane, Beckham is being lined up to share the limelight with a film star.
The Daily Star announced that he “is being wooed by Hollywood bosses to become the new Brad Pitt” as he and wife Victoria “are considering a £10mil deal to star in a fly-on-the-wall movie documentary. Producers hope the film ... will give Becks his first step on the Hollywood ladder”.
Ah, money. Perhaps one of the keys to whether Beckham begins next season at Old Trafford, the Bernabeu or the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square.
Since Alex Ferguson left him on the bench for United’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real on Wednesday, the stories have grown in proportion. A quiet rumbling turning into a monster of ifs and buts about whether he will stay at United or leave for a place in the best team in Europe.
The News of the World reveals Beckham “will have to take a massive £5mil a year pay cut to join Real Madrid”. The paper say the United star’s move was in serious doubt because any deal would leave him “£100,000 a week out of pocket” because of the Spanish club’s “policy of grabbing 50% of all their players’ additional commercial earnings”.
As the Daily Star’s front page tells us about the possibility of Beckham moving onto the big screen, their back page have the player alleging through “his closest friends” that he does not want to leave Old Trafford while The People quotes him through those associates as saying: “I want to remain at Manchester United. I signed my contract and I plan to honour it.”
The Sunday Express and the Sunday Mirror take the story onto another level. The Express claims that Ferguson “will try to land World Footballer of the Year Ronaldo if Real Madrid push home their interest in David Beckham ... Real are prepared to sell him - if the price is right.”
Now, if the Old Trafford fans would be unhappy with Beckham leaving, their upset would easily be erased by the arrival of the wonderful Brazilian whose hat-trick sent United out of the Champions League on Wednesday.
The paper say that Fergie has been “a long-term admirer of Ronaldo” but find a football manager or fan who hasn’t been. Meanwhile the Mirror reports that “Manchester United will make a £40mil bid for Patrick Vieira if they decide to sell England captain David Beckham” and “the news will stun title rivals Arsenal”.
I have an idea. There is so much speculation, you could make a movie out of it. Get me Steven Spielberg, collect call please. Amazing as it might sound, there is mention of the other 19 other clubs in England’s Premiership - and the transfer stories are gaining in their momentum.
Tottenham remain the best candidates for new players. The Sunday Mirror reveals that they are chasing Birmingham’s French World Cup-winning star Christophe Dugarry while the Daily Star says “Glenn Hoddle’s search for a striker has taken him to Portugal where Porto’s Helder is his new target”.
Both Dugarry and Helder have emerged as replacements for Teddy Sheringham but The People says that Birmingham - who are set to have talks with the Frenchman about converting his loan deal into a full-time move - are also planning “a record-breaking move for Brazilian World Cup-winner Kleberson”.
The same paper says that West Ham plan a huge sale of their top players if they are relegated to generate funds of “£14mil and save them £150,000 a week in wages”.
Those on the list to go would be David James, Frederic Kanoute, Trevor Sinclair and Joe Cole while Portsmouth, promoted to the Premiership, “have made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of £3mil for Kevin Phillips” of already-relegated Sunderland.
The Sunday Mirror says that Spurs are “confident” of signing Phillips while also revealing that Newcastle “are tracking schoolboy sensation Freddy Adu, who played against them for the USA Under-17 team last week - at the age of 13”.
The Sunday Express says the future of Liverpool star Steven Gerrard is on hold “until the club’s Champions League fate is determined”.
Gerrard has two years left on his current deal but Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier “would ideally like the midfielder signed and sealed well beyond 2005”.
By which time what honour will be bestowed upon David Beckham? European Football of the Year ... or Best Supporting Actor? – PA