Major League Soccer (MLS) has given Los Angeles Galaxy a Friday deadline to resolve David Beckham's request for a permanent move to Italy's AC Milan, MLS said on Wednesday.
Beckham, who joined the Galaxy midway through 2007, is on loan to Milan and has expressed his desire to stay in Serie A to help him in his bid to play one more World Cup with England in South Africa next year.
In a letter to Tim Leiweke, chief executive of AEG, the entertainment conglomerate that owns the Galaxy, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said any agreement between the clubs would be supported if the matter is finalised by February 13.
"It is absolutely imperative that we bring this issue to closure by this Friday, February 13th, so we can move forward with finalising plans for the 2009 MLS Season," Garber said in his letter.
"We are prepared to be supportive of transferring David to AC Milan for a transfer fee that acknowledges the value of his services to the Galaxy and the League.
"However, if the issue is not resolved by the end of the week, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to go forward with the transfer."
Last week, the Galaxy rejected Milan's first bid for Beckham, saying the England midfielder would return to Los Angeles as scheduled unless Milan came up with a substantially higher offer.
"If David ultimately is an asset for this team, we want him back," Leiweke told the Los Angeles Times last week.
"Clearly, if David's in a position where he wants to finish the season in Milan and Milan in turn compensates the Galaxy so that we can suffer no damages to our fans or to our team, then we'll take a look at it."
"But we have made it very clear to them that we expect David back here March 9. They agree and understand we own the contract. They understand the only way we do this is if, when this is all said and done, the Galaxy benefits."
Beckham joined the Galaxy on a five-year deal as part of an orchestrated bid to lift American soccer to a new level.
After scoring just five goals for the Galaxy in 30 games since his arrival in MLS, he has set his sights on a permanent move to Italy.
"If David believes that he wants to continue his career in Milan and Milan wants to purchase him, we're interested in accommodating that request," Garber told a news conference on Wednesday.
"But right now it just continues to go round in circles and it needs to come to a conclusion by Friday. There's no reason why this should drag on. They either want to do it or they don't want to do it."
"They [Milan] don't have until March 9," he added. "They need approval from us on a transfer. That's our timetable, not Milan's timetable.
"So if Milan believes they have until March 9, then I'm basically correcting that assumption. They have until this Friday. On this Friday, we need to know whether they want to buy David Beckham or not."