How Manchester United almost sold Beckham to Barcelona – not Real Madrid

Real Madrid and Barcelona’s rivalry has always been one of the fiercest in football – and it even reared its head in David Beckham’s transfer from Manchester United to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking to the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, Beckham spoke of the time the club he’d made his name at decided it was time to get rid of him.

Beckham said: “I had heard rumours I might be sold. I was on holiday in the States with Victoria and one of my friends called and told me it was on Sky Sports that United had agreed terms with Barcelona. I said ‘that wasn’t right, I don’t know anything about it’.”

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“I then flew back to London. I tried to speak to Peter Kenyon and tried to speak to the manager and he said ‘no’. I said ‘well I need to speak to him and understand what is going on’. He said ‘it’s true, we have agreed a deal’.

“That is when I spoke to my agent and said ‘if I am going to move, I’m going to move to Madrid’. Within a day, I was sat with the president of Madrid and we agreed that is where I was going to go.”

Sir Alex Ferguson was said to be frustrated by Beckham’s celebrity lifestyle, and made the call to ship him out.

After being beaten by Arsenal in February 2003, tensions boiled over, and Ferguson kicked a football boot in Beckham’s direction in the changing room, leaving a hefty mark above his eye.

Beckham laughed it off as a “freak accident” but in the summer he was unveiled as a Madrid player.

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