David Beckham To PSG: Inside The French Manchester City

Thanks to their new petrol-fuelled Qatari owners Paris Saint-Germain have pockets almost as deep as Manchester City and now they plan to sign Golden Balls himself.
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Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has revealed he would like to bring David Beckham to the club. Leonardo who coached Becks at Milan told the BBC, "He is more than a football player, but when you see him every day he trains and plays like a kid. He is someone that I really appreciate and admire so much - his values and everything he has done in football."

When asked whether the Qatari-owned club would consider signing the former England captain, Leonardo said: "The door is open. He is more than a football player - he's a brand, a pop star. I would always consider him."

So how come PSG, who last won the French league title in 1994, can be looking to sign such a stellar name? Well, this summer they were Europe's second biggest spenders in the summer transfer window, with an outlay of £75.6m - just £3m less than Manchester City.

"They're the French Manchester City," was how Arsène Wenger fittingly described Paris Saint-Germain, who - since June - are awash with more cash than a country 'n' western soirée in Tennessee. Having rolled up their sleeves and waded into the transfer market with gale-force gusto courtesy of their new Qatari owners, the French capital's premier club have shot from also-rans to overwhelming title favourites in the space of a summer.

Money really is no object for Ligue 1's only club from the capital after Qatar Sports Investments - the 'investment vehicle' of Sheik Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, son of the Qatari Emir - purchased a 70% stake in PSG in June. Since, PSG have plundered more clubs than a looter in a London golf shop, waving the cheque book with conspicuous abandon as more than €80m has been lashed out in an attempt to bring the Ligue 1 title to the Parc des Princes for the first time since 1994.

An enthusiasm-dampening 1-0 home defeat to Lorient with which to start the new era was far from what the new Qatari owners - or their freshly-installed sporting director Leonardo - would have wanted. A pressure-easing victory was only a couple of minutes away at Rennes last weekend only for a late leveller to poop the PSG party once again. "We proved that it takes more than money and piling one big name on top of another to win," said Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff following his side's victory. "There's also how you play."

The most intriguing purchase remains Pastore, who is undoubtedly overpriced, but who promised much at Palermo.

Despite the early setbacks, though, you have to concede the money has been spent wisely. With France coach Laurent Blanc publicly stating his desire to see more of his squad ply their trade in Ligue 1, Kevin Gameiro - the league's second-top scorer last season with modest Lorient - opted for PSG rather than the Premier League in exchange for €11m, while one-time Arsenal target, Blaise Matuidi, has swapped Saint-Etienne for the capital to help replace the retired Claude Makelele. Leonardo's Italian connections have allowed him to coax the excellent Jérémy Ménez from Roma, while ex-Liverpool man Momo Sissoko, Salvatore Sirigu and Javier Pastore - the latter for a Ligue 1 record €42m - have also joined the PSG gravy train.

Menez, a boyhood PSG fan, stated his desire to emulate Ronaldinho, presumably on the pitch rather than in the capital's nightclubs, and worryingly described himself as being "very tired" after inking his contract. However, as long as he doesn't sign too many autographs, he should have the energy to form a potent creative threat with Nene, who will need to find some consistency after racking up 13 goals in the first half of last season and just one more in the rest of the campaign. If they do click, Gameiro - as he already did at Rennes - will score goals.

The most intriguing purchase remains Pastore, who is undoubtedly overpriced, but who promised much at Palermo. The Qatari owners have made it clear they want to unearth 'the new Messi' and after having massive bids for Brazilian wunderkind Ganso turned down, Pastore - though hardly an unknown - is the man they are pinning their hopes on.

Though the squad they have assembled is studded with a swathe of new faces, the man in the dug-out remains the same. Antoine Kombouaré, a former PSG defender who once played at Aberdeen, has done well with limited means since arriving at the capital from Valenciennes two summers ago. Last season, Champions League qualification appeared within reach only for the side to slip to fourth come the season's end, and the coming campaign - pre-take-over - would have had a top-three finish as a realistic objective.

Time, though, is a precious commodity at PSG where any minor hiccup is treated as an affair of state.

The money has changed everything, though. The Ligue 1 title is now seen by many as the least PSG have to achieve this season as well as wreaking havoc in the latter stages of the Europa League. Is Kombouaré the man to do that? He hasn't before - though he would justifiably argue he's never previously had the means - and there are signs he's starting to feel the pressure. His claims that the defeat to Lorient would allow him "to see our ability to react" smacked of a man scrambling for an excuse, while he gruffly grumbled last week that he would storm out of the next press conference where a journalist asks him about his own future. A post-match spat with Nene at Rennes last weekend will hardly have helped ease tensions.

Such was the 'chatter' over Kombouaré's fragile tenure, Leonardo came out to publicly back his coach, while his players put on a brave face. "We've got time to work on building understanding," said Gameiro. "I'm not worried." Those sentiments were echoed by Julien Quercia, Lorient's matchwinner at the Parc: "You just have to give them some time. When they learn to play together, they're going to do a lot of damage."

Time, though, is a precious commodity at PSG where any minor hiccup is treated as an affair of state. The clock is already ticking on Kombouaré with the patience of Leonardo - who reportedly has Carlo Ancelotti's number on speed dial - likely to wear thin quickly if results continue to fail to match the scale of expectation - and investment - of the men holding the purse strings.

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