Owen Hargreaves has accused Real Madrid of responding in a "spiteful" manner to David Beckham’s impending exit.
The Bayern Munich midfielder, and England team-mate of Beckham at last summer’s World Cup, believes Beckham "will have the last laugh" over his controversial switch to Major League Soccer outfit LA Galaxy.
His summer exit from the Bernabeu is is danger of descending into a farce, with Real boss Fabio Capello refusing to pick him for the rest of the season, and club president Ramon Calderon labelling the player "an average cinema actor living in Hollywood".
"I was a bit surprised by Real’s announcement that Becks will not play for them again," Hargreaves wrote in his column for BBC Sport.
"A contract is a contract – it is their decision what they want to do but it is possibly the first time I have heard of such a move.
Hargreaves continued: "Players coming to the end of their contract are allowed to sign a
contract with any club in January – that is the rule. At Bayern, Hasan Salihamidzic has just signed a deal with Juventus and
I am sure he will play some games for us for the rest of the season, so only Real know the reasons for that but it seems a bit spiteful. For Becks, this is a new challenge and a new chapter. For anybody that
doubts him, I predict Becks will probably have the last laugh. I admire him for everything he has achieved and the way he has handled
it – not many people could have withstood what he has gone through. It takes a unique person and that is why he is a good example for
people to look up to. I have had nothing but great experiences with
Of course, Hargreaves has been embroiled in his own transfer saga with Bayern forced to thwart the advances of Manchester United.
Hargreaves, who is nearing a return to the pitch after suffering a leg break,
can see himself following Beckham’s lead by playing in the MLS later in
"I think it is commendable that people take on these new challenges
rather than sticking with a comfortable situation. Becks still wants to achieve a lot in his career and has set himself
goals – this is probably one of them. But what he brings to a league that is not that popular at the moment
is a big name and he is going to be hugely influential. It also opens the door for others to go over there and play and I am
sure you will see some other star players commit their future to MLS. Towards the end of my career, I could definitely see myself playing
over there. It would be interesting especially as I grew up in North
America and certainly something to think about." [Mof Gimmers]