Ancelotti takes reins at PSG – Beckham to follow?
Former Chelsea Double-winning manager appointed at French Ligue 1 table-toppers
Saturday 31 December 2011
Paris St-Germain displayed their ruthless ambition by appointing Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager yesterday having parted with Antoine Kombouaré despite the club sitting on top of Ligue 1 at the mid-season break.
PSG, who also want to recruit David Beckham as a player but say "nothing is signed", made the Ancelotti announcement at a news conference after days of speculation. Their former player and ex-Chelsea midfielder Claude Makélelé will be the Italian's assistant.
"I think I can do good work here. We have all the conditions to succeed. I am delighted and very enthusiastic about this project," Ancelotti said.
Kombouaré's position had come under intense scrutiny after the club's new Qatari owners bankrolled a close-season spending spree of around €85m (£71m). Almost half of that was spent on the Argentina international Javier Pastore from Palermo, whose sparkling early-season form tailed off as the club, who had made a strong start to the campaign, began to stutter at home and in Europe.
They suffered an embarrassing 3-0 league defeat to arch-rivals Marseilles last month and were knocked out in the group stages of the Europa League, winning only three of their six matches.
However, they recovered in Ligue 1 to be top after 19 games but that was not enough to stop the owners and sporting director Leonardo from wielding the axe on unheralded former Valenciennes manager Kombouaré who was in charge before May's takeover.
A more high-profile name such as Ancelotti, the former Milan and Chelsea manager, fits better with the Qataris' aim of turning PSG into one of Europe's top clubs, with their pursuit of marketing phenomenon Beckham another example of the huge ambition.
PSG's vast new wealth means they are set to make Ancelotti the best paid coach in Ligue 1 history and they are also considering rebuilding their Parc des Princes home or moving to the Stade de France.
The club, only formed in 1970 as the French capital struggled to get a foothold on the European football map, won the last of their two national titles in 1994 and have one European Cup Winners' Cup to their name.
Ancelotti, who twice won the Champions League as coach of Milan, was sacked by Chelsea at the end of last season despite guiding the London club to the Premier League and FA Cup Double the year before.
The 52-year-old Italian had previously said he would like to stay in the Premier League, with reports saying he was targeting the Tottenham Hotspur job if Harry Redknapp left at the end of the season to manage England.
However, he has been persuaded otherwise by Leonardo, who worked with Ancelotti at Milan as a director of football before replacing him as Rossoneri coach for the 2009-10 season.
PSG have been linked to Chelsea's France winger Florent Malouda in the January transfer window and Milan striker Alexandre Pato, who recently criticised his coach Massimiliano Allegri. Both played under Ancelotti, at Chelsea and Milan respectively, while Beckham, free after his Los Angeles Galaxy deal ran out, also played under Ancelotti on loan at the Italian side.
Leonardo yesterday said a deal for Beckham was far from complete and that he had "not signed anything" with the French club. The Brazilian made the announcement as he unveiled Ancelotti. "We have never said it was done," Leonardo said.
"We have a good relationship but I don't know what he is going to do. There is always the question of his personal life. He is in Los Angeles," added the Brazilian. "Nothing is signed."
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