Picking a PSG Starting XI to Include David Beckham
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Now that David Beckham's arrival in Paris has been settled and the furore has died down a little, the next question on everyone's lips is when he will make his debut. And more importantly, where will he play for Paris Saint-Germain when he does.
The loan departures of Momo Sissoko to Fiorentina, Mathieu Bodmer to Saint-Etienne and Adrien Rabiot to Toulouse have created some space in the squad's midfield however, competition remains high. The arrival of Beckham is not likely to change Carlo Ancelotti's formation too much even when he is fit. There is no sense in doing that, given that his contract only last for five months and he is too old to have a team built around him anymore.
What the 37-year-old does offer, though, is a quality alternative to Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti or Javier Pastore (if withdrawn from his recent wide role) when selected. Motta is no quicker than the former England captain yet commands a starting berth when fit, so let's dispose of the questions regarding his speed straight away.
The back four will likely remain unchanged despite Beckham's introduction to the fold. However, if he were to be played on the right, Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel would likely usurp Christophe Jallet because of his attacking threat.
Otherwise, the Frenchman is the more balanced choice of the pair, but neither is ideal. It was something of a surprise that PSG didn't move to bring in a new right-back at the end of the window given their struggles to adequately fill the position.
With the defence unchanged from its familiar first-choice appearance, the team would likely look like this: Salvatore Sirigu, Christophe Jallet, Thiago Silva, Mamadou Sakho, Maxwell, Blaise Matudi, David Beckham, Jeremy Menez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Before he breaks into the team, though, there is tough competition for places in midfield with Pastore, Verratti, Motta and Clement Chantome the other notable options in this area who can all occupy a similar position. Beckham playing on the wing looks unlikely due to his self-confessed "lack of pace" and conversion in recent years to a more central role, meaning that his arrival could have a knock-on effect on Ancelotti's attacking unit.
His introduction could instead signal a move into the middle for Lucas Moura with Jeremy Menez moving to the right despite a relatively successful conversion into a support striker. The Brazilian's pace and tendency to gravitate toward the middle of the park is better used centrally with the Frenchman's direct threat and penchant for assists making him more useful out wide for now.
Beckham, when played, will be looked to for service. His balls over the top for Moura, Menez and Ibrahimovic, set-piece deliveries and crosses from deep positions in and around the penalty area will give PSG an aerial threat that was previously deficient.
A lack of mobility, natural at 37 going on 38 years of age, will be offset by the presence of Blaise Matuidi. The French international's all-round athleticism will take the pressure off of Beckham, giving him the chance to create from deep unlike Motta.
However, that is something that Pastore and Verratti are both capable of. So perhaps the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man's biggest role is to act as mentor for both players. PSG are loathe to admit defeat with the Argentine whilst the diminutive Italian is badly in need of tuition after losing his way following a promising start to life in the capital.
It is hard to imagine Beckham immediately breaking into Ancelotti's side, but by the same token he wouldn't have agreed to put his name to a project where he was not promised star billing. His experience though is what will be most beneficial for the club and that is hard to put into any demonstrative graphic.
Most likely he will rotate with the Italian's other options, getting maximum time where the risk is lowest and otherwise being saved for PSG's biggest games. Beckham will expect to play, and Ancelotti has a task on his hands in fitting another new element into a team that has struggled to settle at times this season.
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