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05 December 2023

'Buy them young'


By Ahmad Lala

With the Abu Dhabi United Group-owned Manchester City on the prowl for new star players this January, AC Milan player Clarence Seedorf admits he would consider an offer even though he is happy playing in the Italian team's fantasy midfield.

The Dutchman is in Dubai with the Rossoneri for their annual winter training camp, after which they will play German side Hamburg in the Emirates Cup at The Sevens ground on Tuesday.

"Of course, I'd consider any offer," said Seedorf. "An intelligent person considers everything, especially when you are in a position where you don't need to make a change like me.

"I don't really need to make a move, but I'm always open to any offer because that shows as a player you are still in the market."

Seedorf, who is a regular visitor to the UAE to raise awareness for different charities and his academy, will not consider an offer to play in the UAE though, as he feels he cannot "add value" to football in the region. He also advises the country's clubs to change their approach in signing players.

"My advice to UAE clubs is that they have to stop buying players at end of their careers," says the 32-year old. "To raise the level of competition they need to buy players who are motivated to play football, not players who are chasing money.

"They don't need big name players anymore to market the country because now everybody in the world knows about Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They now need to get players who can add value to the club.

"They need to get quality young players who are motivated, and in Europe there are thousands of players without clubs that can be signed, but they need to search for the right people."

The AC Milan team is already littered with star names such as Kaka, Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko and Paolo Maldini; but, according to Seedorf, the team camp was buzzing when on-loan LA Galaxy player David Beckham trained with the club here for the first time.

"Of course, everytime a new player comes it always brings excitement," said the midfielder, who won the Champions League with Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan. "It's exciting for everyone to play with and learn from key players, and everybody is enthusiastic to play with champions."

Beckham will spend the next three months on-loan with AC Milan as he attempts to keep fit in the Major Soccer League off-season in the hope he can remain in running for a place in Fabio Capello's England squad. His arrival comes at a crucial time for the third-placed team, who are seeking to close the nine-point gap on leaders Inter Milan, and Seedorf says that the squad will try to help him settle as quickly as possible.

"He [Beckham] needs to focus on getting in shape," says Seedorf. "Of course he hasn't lost his talent and he is motivated, that's why he came here, but the expectations from him are going to be sky high. We will help him and I don't think pressure is a problem for him. Whatever happens with his life outside the club is none of our business, he is one of our colleagues and we are going to help him become one of our team members."

When asked if he, the other star players and the team were tired of all the transfer rumours and links with Manchester City, Seedorf smiles and answers: "No, it's not frustrating at all.

"It's like if you walk in the marketplace and all the women look at you and you're with your wife, either she becomes jealous or else she will realise that 'I have a very nice husband'."