Tue, Aug 29, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Madrid eager to discuss extension for Beckham

AP , MADRID, SPAIN

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, top, celebrates a goal with his teammates during their English Premier League soccer match at Vicarage Road in Watford, London, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Real Madrid is hoping to talk to David Beckham about a contract extension.

The former England captain has said he wants to stay with the Spanish team after his contract expires at the end of the season, and Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon also wants to sit down with the player.

"The intention from the club is to sit down and discuss a new deal," Beckham spokesman Simon Oliveira said yesterday. "Nothing's been discussed yet."

Real Madrid -- which has not won a trophy in three years -- wants to keep Beckham mainly for his athletic value, not his marketing allure, Calderon said.

"Of course the criteria were based on sports. Marketing issues are important but in this Real Madrid sports aspects take priority," Calderon said late on Sunday.

Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003 from Manchester United.

He played in Real Madrid's 0-0 draw with visiting Villarreal on Sunday in its first match of the Spanish league season. Beckham was replaced by Robinho in the 75th minute.

Beckham captained England at the World Cup in Germany but was dropped after the tournament by new coach Steve McClaren.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was cleared to play for England in European Champion-ship qualifying matches against Andorra and Macedonia.

Ferdinand injured his toe in Manchester United's 2-1 victory on Saturday, but an X-ray on Sunday showed no broken bones.

England officials said yesterday that the United defender would be available to play against Andorra on Saturday and Macedonia on Sept. 6.

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