THE great David Beckham debate appears to be over. The world’s best known footballer WILL come back to the English Premier League and spend three months on loan at Tottenham Hotspur.
Here it is from the horse’s mouth. Harry Redknapp, the man who has transformed the north London club in two short years, said: "David wants to come over here to the freezing cold and play football. Doesn't that tell you something about the boy that he lives in Los Angeles and might be a billionaire?
"It’s not about money. We’re not great payers here and in the short term, he's not going to sell a load of shirts. He is a local boy isn't he? Leytonstone?
"We'll contact LA Galaxy to see if they will let him go and if David is up for a three-month deal, we are definitely interested.”
So there it is. Bongani Khumalo, currently en route to North London after his £1.5m transfer from South African champions Supersports United, will welcome the news. Imagine playing behind the great Becks himself in the FA Cup clash against Charlton on 9 January!
That might be a bit early for Becks but with the Major League Soccer season starting on 15 March, Beckham, 35, will get to feature in the Champions League knock-out clashes on 15 February and 9 March against AC Milan, the club he had a similar loan spell with in 2009 and 2010.
And of course he gets to be a thorn in the side of his old boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United, the club where he made his name, playing 394 games and winning the Premier League title six times. In the past he has said he would not play for a club England because of his love for United. But all that changed when he was picking up the BBC’s lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony this month. He told a stunned audience in Birmingham: “I won’t be going back to AC Milan this time because it is not possible to go onto the roster for such a short length of time.
“But I will be going back somewhere, as I want to keep myself fit and keep myself in with a chance of getting called up for England again. To do that, I have to be somewhere, so fingers crossed I can sort something out.”
Though LA Galaxy could yet refuse permission for Beckham to go on loan, Redknapp grinned: “He isn't going to come here and get big money ... but he wants to come over here to the freezing cold and play football.
"I'm sure he can still do a great job at the top level, otherwise I wouldn't bother. And it’s not about cash. We aren't massive payers at this club.”
Courted by Everton, West Ham, his old United pal Steve Bruce at Sunderland and Sven Goran Eriksson’s Championship club Leicester, Stoke were the last club to express an interest. But Spurs, Beckham’s boyhood club when he was growing up in Leytonsone, near Tottenham, in London, will do the trick as he continues to rehabilitate after the six-month Achilles injury which forced him out of World Cup contention.
The stated aim? To play for England again, to add to his record 115 caps, the last won under Fabio Capello in the 3-0 win over Belarus in October, 2009.
Redknapp knows the deal isn’t done but admits: "I'm not saying he's going to come in and take Aaron Lennon's place wide on the right but he would be a good option.
"I am sure Aaron would love to work with him, on his crossing and everything, and on his final ball. He would be a good influence around the place."
Certainly his knowledge, after acting as an England coach in Phokeng during the World Cup, would also benefit Bafana Bafana’s 23-year-old new arrival Khumalo. The question is, with Beckham there on loan, will Redknapp persevere with the £2m move for fellow South African Steve Pienaar, out of contract at Everton in the summer? He may well now wait until he is available for free in June.
And as for the overwhelming media scrum, Redknapp laughs: "I don't think it would be a distraction. Once you're in here, the gates are shut.
“He could sit in his fantastic house with a pool and enjoy his life for a few months before he starts with LA Galaxy again. I've heard stories about how much he earns, it is just incredible, mind-blowing.
“He could buy any football club in this country if he wanted to. He is not going to do it for the money is he? But he wants to come. He’s still got real passion for the game. He’ll give the whole place a real lift.”