Ancelotti aims to propel PSG into new dimension

AFP, Thursday 5 Jan 2012

David Beckham may have elected not to sign up for the Paris Saint-Germain revolution, but new coach Carlo Ancelotti's remit - to turn PSG into one of the world's biggest clubs — remains the same

Carlo Ancelotti

PSG finally admitted defeat in their pursuit of the former England captain David Beckham on Tuesday, bringing to an end months of speculation and disappointing fans encouraged by reports in the French media that the deal was "95 percent" complete.

Beckham's volte-face represents something of a public relations embarrassment for Europe's newest big spenders, but the huge wealth of owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) means they are unlikely to dally for long in the transfer market.

PSG spent heavily last summer but their signings were mainly tried and tested Ligue 1 performers such as Lorient striker Kevin Gameiro and Saint-Etienne holding midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

By appointing Ancelotti, QSI therefore hope to make the French top-flight's perennial under-achievers a more attractive prospect for players of genuine global renown.

Stardust and Champions League experience are key priorities, and sources close to QSI told AFP this week that they have sanctioned bids totalling 61.5 million euros ($80m) for AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato and Real Madrid playmaker Kaka.

Ancelotti worked with both Brazilians during his successful tenure at Milan, with whom he won two Champions League titles, but on Wednesday he tried to dampen speculation about their chances of arriving in Paris.

"Pato is a Milan player, he has a contract and we're therefore not interested in him," declared the 52-year-old, who also stated that there was "no chance" of Kaka arriving from Madrid "at the moment."

Ancelotti began getting to know PSG's players during a mid-season training camp in Doha this week and gave an indication of the tactics he may employ in the 1-0 defeat by Milan in Wednesday's friendly in Dubai—in which Pato scored the winner.

The Italian set PSG out in the 4-3-2-1 'Christmas tree' formation that characterised his time at Milan, with the impressive Nene and club record signing Javier Pastore supporting lone striker Guillaume Hoarau in attack.

"We tried to do something different in midfield and the players adapted well," said Ancelotti. "I know they worked well in another system (4-2-3-1) during the first half of the season, but it's good to be able to play in another system."

After returning to Paris, the squad will begin preparations for Ancelotti's competitive debut at fifth-tier Saint-Colomban Locmine in the French Cup on Sunday.

The incoming coach has pledged not to meddle unduly with a team that went into the winter break leading Ligue 1 by three points, but reports suggest he has already made his presence felt behind the scenes.

Despite sporting director Leonardo's insistence that Beckham chose not to come to Paris for "family reasons," Wednesday's L'Equipe speculated that the deal broke down partially due to Ancelotti's reservations about the 36-year-old's physical condition.

Although there were unscheduled exits from both the French League Cup and the Europa League, PSG were in decent health prior to Antoine Kombouare's abrupt but widely anticipated sacking in late December.

The challenge facing Ancelotti is not just to keep PSG winning, but to improve the quality of their football at the same time.

Under Kombouare, PSG were often reliant on the individual initiative shown by Nene, Pastore and Jeremy Menez, and they looked far less cohesive than defending champions Lille during the 0-0 draw between the sides at Parc des Princes last month.

Ancelotti has been cautious in his assessment of PSG's objectives, insisting on Wednesday that the club's only aims were to "play in the Champions League next season and become a great team in the future".

He could not ask for stronger financial backing, but his experience at Chelsea—where he was sacked just a year after securing the club's first ever league and FA Cup double—means he will need no reminding about the consequences of failure.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online sports on Twitter: @AO_Sports)

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