David Beckham was finally given the green light to return to England’s Premier League last night – and he could make his debut against former club Manchester United at Spurs on January 19.
LA Galaxy took their time over granting permission for their best-paid player to spend two months on loan with Harry Redknapp’s side, worried lest he repeat the Achilles injury he sustain when playing for Milan last season.
But they have risked the ire of their considerable support by allowing him to play for the North London club Beckham, now 35, supported as a boy growing up in Leytonstone. His grandfather was also a mad Lilywhites fan.
Galaxy are believed to have agreed the move because both clubs are linked to AEG, the entertainment company which is helping Spurs in their bid to take over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after London 2012.
England’s most capped outfield player is expected agree the loan deal tomorrow and will be presented to the White Hart Lane faithful on Sunday before the FA Cup third round clash against Charlton Athletic.
Redknapp’s master plan of buying Beckham and grooming a successor is likely to fail, given news that Beckham will be entitled to buy an MLS franchise “at 2007 prices” if he fulfils his contract with Galaxy, which ends in November. He is believed to be planning to buy New York Cosmos for £16m.
The first clue to his future came yesterday morning with the news that his three sons, Brooklyn, 11, Romeo, eight, and Cruz, 5, had been enrolled at an expensive private school near his London home north of London.
Spurs will pay a loan fee of around £500,000 to LA Galaxy and offer a weekly wage of around £120,000 to Beckham, though there may be hard bargaining during today’s meeting with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. Depending on his fitness – and that of rival right-sided midfielder Aaron Lennon – he could play a maximum of ten games for Spurs, including the two Champions League clashes against AC Milan, where he spent his last two winters.
Beckham, linked to Spurs since a lunch at Harrods with Harry’s son Jamie two weeks ago, hopes playing for Spurs will enhance his chances of adding to his 115 England caps.
Boss Redknapp feels the positives of signing Beckham – which will include significant shirt sales – amount to more than the negatives of having the megastar on board for two months before the MLS kicks off on March 15.
Redknapp, also linked with a £30m bid for Newcastle striker Andy Carroll yesterday, said: "It will be great to have David around. He'll be a great role model for the young players.”
One of those youngsters is Bongani Khumalo, the 23-year-old South African who arrived in London this morning to begin his Tottenham career after a £1.5m move from SuperSports United.
Khumalo could also find himself training with Bafana Bafana team-mate Steven Pienaar before the January transfer window closes. Boss Redknapp repeated his interest in the unsettled Everton ace yesterday, telling Sky News: "If Pienaar doesn't sign a contract he'll be a great free transfer for someone at the end of the year, if he doesn't stay at Everton.
"He still belongs to Everton, so it's a difficult one. They are still trying to keep him. We'll wait and see what happens."
Khumalo, the 23-year-old Supersports United captain finally sorted out the delays caused by England’s bitter winter to catch his Heathrow flight last night - and he remains a possibility to play against Charlton.
But with William Gallas fit again to slot in next to Michael Dawson, Khumalo may find himself dropping down the central defensive pecking order. Younes Kaboul is serving a Premier League ban after his red card against Newcastle and Sebastien Bassong is returning to fitness while Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate remain on the long-term casualty list.
After a farewell party with his Matsatsantsa team-mates at Zwartkop near Pretoria, Khumalo’s manager Glyn Binkin confirmed: "Bongani has flown out to Heathrow. Everything is sorted out, he’s got his visa.”
Khumalo’s deputy at Supersports, Thabo September said: " We really enjoyed our football with Bongani as our captain We spent three fruitful seasons together. The team-work was amazing, he showed great leadership - and he will continue working hard in Europe.”
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