Is David Beckham the Right Man to Fill the Void Left by Leonardo at PSG?
Less than two months after he finished his playing career in the French capital, David Beckham is being linked with a return to Paris Saint-Germain.
But not in a playing capacity, not even in a coaching one.
Instead, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi is considering appointing Beckham as a trusted advisor. The position would replace the outgoing Leonardo’s sporting director role, according to Le Parisien (h/t Ian Holyman of ESPN FC).
Obviously, Beckham has no experience in a staff capacity with any football club having only just recently retired.
However, he has an abundance of knowledge when it comes to the works of public relations and business.
"Brand Beckham," despite the 38-year-old’s playing career now being over, is still strong.
An ambassador for Chinese football, a role he accepted while at PSG, as well as being associated with a number of other causes, makes the former England captain a well-connected man.
Glitz and glamour are two of the key ingredients that Leonardo has brought to PSG since taking the position of sporting director in June 2011.
Since then, he has turned the capital club into a real force to be reckoned with in Europe and a genuine threat on the continental stage to the better-established traditional football powers.
In doing that, the Brazilian has spent in excess of 200 million Euros and could even tip 300 before he departs his position at the end of the current transfer window in August.
The 43-year-old’s downfall in Paris has been largely due to an ill-advised shove on referee Alexandre Castro following a frustrating 1-1 draw for PSG against Valenciennes in May, as reported by ESPN FC.
However, a number of other incidents and outbursts, including branding his own team “not made for France,” reported by Infosport (via ESPN FC), contributed towards some erratic behaviour at the end of last season.
Despite a mixed record in Paris, the former Brazil international has incredible influence when it comes to transfer dealings.
Few, if any, could follow in his footsteps. PSG know this.
But the French champions are currently staring an outright exodus in the face.
Captain Thiago Silva is continually being linked with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona (h/t ESPN FC).
Top scorer last season with 30 goals and the team’s talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also reportedly considering his future. According to French reports, he is being linked with moves to Manchester City, and Real Madrid (h/t Graeme York of the Daily Mail), as he is disillusioned at what is happening at PSG.
Despite this uncertainty, Leonardo is continuing to work on bringing players on board.
It is expected that the current upheaval at the Parc des Princes will affect Napoli striker Edinson Cavani’s proposed move. According to French reports, per Football-Italia, the 26-year-old Uruguayan goal machine will still arrive in the French capital.
PSG are also reportedly in talks to sign Marquinhos, according to Le Parisien, (h/t Callum Fox of Sambafoot) after Leonardo met with Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini in Paris on Thursday.
Lille’s Lucas Digne is expected to announce whether he will choose Monaco or PSG when he returns from under-20 World Cup action in Turkey.
There are also suggestions that the French champions are looking to reinforce their midfield options.
Leonardo’s commitment to task and professionalism in staying to ensure that PSG remain safe until the transfer window closes is admirable, but his departure will leave a massive hole.
It is thought that with so many of the current squad having arrived in Paris, thanks to his persuasive tactics, his exit will make a few players contemplate their futures.
The need to retain their status quo at this time is vital for PSG, but it is thought that only a big name will be able to convince those stars to stay.
So, who else could replace him adequately?
According to Ian Holyman of ESPN FC, the Brazilian’s exit once again opens up the possibility of making the role more attractive to Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger ahead of next summer, when his Gunners deal expires.
Any deal to bring the Frenchman to the Parc des Princes is thought to require the ability to have control over transfers and on-field matters, something that would not have been possible with Leonardo.
So, Beckham has the name and the star quality that would make him a good replacement, even if in a different role. However, he doesn’t have the experience, at least on paper.
Other options include David Ginola and Emilio Butragueno, and to a lesser extent, Olivier Letang, who is currently assistant sporting director to Leonardo.
Ginola has a history with the club, having played there between 1992 and 1995, but Butragueno has been familiar with such responsibilities since his playing days were over.
The Spaniard was technical director at Real Madrid and a close friend of Florentino Perez for a long time, and he still plays an active role for Los Blancos.
Al-Khelaifi has claimed that he is in “no rush” to name a successor to Leonardo, according to Ligue 1.com.
But if star players start asking questions of PSG’s ambitions, he might need to make a decision sooner than he thinks.
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