First and foremost I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and anticipate a fruitful New Year.
After a short break for the holiday season, it is about time we get back to discussing matters in the French capital and no topic is much bigger than the imminent arrival of David Beckham.
The Englishman is currently enjoying the festivities in his homeland and was even snapped catching some late night Christmas shopping in the inner city of London. Even with his immediate concern being on enjoying this short break with his family, it is only a matter of time before he puts pen to paper on a lucrative 18-month contract worth £670,000 per month at Paris Saint-Germain.
Although the transfer is being scrutinised for a variety of reasons outside the Parc des Princes, the club will only reap the benefits from the global appeal of the world’s most famous footballer. Yes, at 36 years of age there will be a doubt or two as to whether or not he can adapt to a league that is light years ahead of the one he is coming from, in terms of technical play but nevertheless, he has proved during two recent loan spells in Italy’s Serie A with Milan that he has something to offer despite his career reaching its climax.
Off-field matters to one side, what will Beckham bring to the turf of the Parc des Princes? It is common knowledge that his technical expertise are just as impeccable as ever. He perhaps still possesses the most precise and expertly timed long balls in the sport, along with a fear factor from set-pieces that more often than not pick out a teammate. The season just gone was his best with the Los Angeles Galaxy since his move to the US back in 2007. Without doubt his most consistent and influential year in the white of the MLS outfit, Becks contributed with 16 assists in all competitions and started 33 matches. Leading the club to the MLS title, he also picked up the MLS ‘Comeback Player of the Year award’, the first non American to win it.
He will be 37 at the beginning of May but remember age is just a number and Beckham can more than backup his credentials as an athlete. Yes, there will be instances during his stay where fatigue will become a factor but his involvement for 60 minutes or even a 30 minute spell from off the bench can ultimately make the difference – meaning it takes just one swing of his impeccable right foot to turn a game on sixpence.
His attributes are all well and good but if he does not fit into a team which – in the short term – is going gun hoe for the championship, then it will severely derail any aspirations of claiming any honours come next spring. Coach Antoine Kombouare looks as if he will indeed be relieved of his duties in the next week, allowing Carlo Ancelotti to take the helm. Ironically, the Italian worked with Beckham during his two loan stints in Italy.
The former Milan tactician, like many, had developed a wrong perception of Beckham before finally meeting him at the start of 2009. Expecting to deal with an egomaniac due to his superior fame, Ancelotti wrote in his Autobiography; “I expected to be dealing with a movie star homesick for Los Angeles. But I was wrong. He’s an impeccable professional and an almost excessively well-mannered gentleman”. Knowing what he can do will put Beckham in good stead for a potential starting berth in the XI, but where?
Kombouare has adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation with Mohamed Sissoko partnering either Blaise Matuidi or Mathieu Bodmer just in front of a back four, Jeremy Menez and Nene operating the wings with Javier Pastore just in behind lone striker Kevin Gameiro. A player who has never been blessed with pace, it will be difficult to see Beckham dislodging Nene or Menez from either flank – despite playing a large part of his career in those areas. In his later years he has been predominantly playing in central midfield, a position that suits him and will suit the Parisians. Ancelotti’s system is not too different from that of Kombouare, meaning one of those central midfield positions are up for grabs. Sissoko is now starting to blossom and prove his worth after an indifferent start to life in France. Bodmer, Chantome and Matuidi on the other hand have been in and out of form, failing to cement their place in the team alongside the Malian international. This seemingly leaves Ancelotti no other alternative than to integrate Beckham in alongside Sissoko where he can spread balls out wide and provide support for Pastore just behind. Sissoko will have more responsibility in defensive matters due to Becks’ lack of tackling prowess but his willingness to track back and isolate his opposite number will not go unfounded.
Another area – but one that may be scoffed out – is at right-back. It is a position again that has seen its fair share of occupants this season such as Ceara, Sylvain Armand and predominantly Christophe Jallet. Beckham may not have the defensive abilities to produce immaculately timed interceptions but in all honesty, neither do the majority of players who currently play their trade there at the club. That is not a criticism of the players ability by any means but what they offer going forward is more of a plus. Jallet has been in sterling form since his goal in the 2-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais and is proving to be an asset – even more so that he has been pushed further up the pitch. Beckham’s awareness, ability to pick out a pass and intelligence can easily allow him to fulfil a duty there. The problem for him however will be the determination from opposition teams to get at him and expose his lack of pace. This will ultimately be an Achilles heel for him and the probability of up taking the position is slim – but could give the Coach some food for thought regardless.
At this moment in time, it is anyone’s guess as to how the former England skipper will fit into the PSG formation. With the club already sat the summit of Ligue 1 will he be any better than the midfielders already at Camp des Loges? Time will tell, but if past experiences are anything to go by, he will have a major role to play in any immediate success at the club.