Jan 31, 2013, 11:17 AM EDT
A man past his illustrious best was surely signed for publicity and jersey sales, right?
David Beckham’s arrival is all about flash and dash – not to mention the prospect of selling lots of Paris Saint-Germain kits in the lucrative Asian apparel market. PSG was presumably already selling in sufficient numbers around France, but this is a chance to expand the PSG brand into areas east, including Australia and the Middle East.
And then there’s the element of Paris chic and former be-Spiced wife Victoria; in this, Beckham’s arrival at Parc des Princes makes perfect sense. His commercial endorsement remains strong, so the beautifully lit Parisian backdrop nails the sweet spot of Brand Beckham’s off-field gold spinning.
But he does remain a competitive athlete, and the proud former England captain would wince at possibly finishing such an illustrious career stuck awkwardly on the Parc des Princes bench.
So where does a 37-year-old midfielder fit within a club chasing Ligue 1 hardware and now into the business end of Champions League play? How will he fit under manager Carlo Ancelotti and PSG sporting director Leonardo, who managed Beckham while on loan at Milan two years ago?
There is a plausible scenario where Beckham would see significant minutes in the money matches ahead for PSG.
After all, two of Beckham’s contemporaries at Manchester United, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, remain key elements in Sir Alex Ferguson’s alignment at Old Trafford, where Man United remains as mighty as ever, currently commanding the venerable English Premier League race.
With the Galaxy, Beckham had become a supporting type, a deep-lying midfield playmaker far removed from his days of dashing up and down the right looking to whip balls dangerously into the penalty area. But that’s fine; in fact, that’s what makes Beckham a reasonably good fit under Ancelotti.
The Italian boss has generally advocated narrow formations, mostly aligned into a 4-3-fill-in-the blank. That is, four defenders, three central midfielders and then some arrangement of attackers that will always find Zlatan Ibrahimovic being, well, whatever he wants to be. “Ibra” has recently dropped deeper into the midfield to become more of a creative influence. He’s got the skill, flair and soccer brain to do it.
That also helps Beckham’s playing chances as it creates a nearly unlimited number of attacking arrangements for Ancelotti.
Marco Verratti is frequently the man to sit deep in midfield, screen the defense and distribute with the simple midfield passes. If Beckham is one of the men ahead of him, most likely leaning right, making the former England captain a linking presence (but one with the ability to find the left flank quickly with one of his signature 60-yard lasers) doesn’t seem like a terrible option.
Or, Beckham could actually replace Verratti, a young and emerging Italian playmaker who could certainly manage additional, more complicated tasks further up the field. Verratti’s ability to quickly bring the flanks into play in advanced positions looks quite similar to Beckham’s last couple of Galaxy years from the same position at the Home Depot Center.
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