Frank Dunne: Veterans of San Siro in need of reinforcement

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The Independent Online

David Beckham's arrival could be timely for Milan. The team's inconsistency since the thigh injury sustained last month by playmaker Andrea Pirlo has suggested that they do not have adequate creative cover for him. Clarence Seedorf has deputised reasonably well but Milan's other midfielders – Gennaro Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, Emerson and Mathieu Flamini – are primarily ball winners.

Pirlo should be back long before Beckham arrives in January but the Englishman would provide a useful alternative should Pirlo struggle for fitness or form. If Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti – who described Beckham as "a serious athlete and a great professional" – sticks with his usual formula, using three players in front of the defence, Beckham could play either in the middle – Pirlo's role – or on the right of the three.

Just ahead of him, Beckham will find two of the world's most skilful and unpredictable players, the Brazilians Kaka and Ronaldinho. The latter was dismissed in some quarters as being past his best – at 28 – when he left Barcelona for Milan this summer, but is already showing tantalising flashes of his genius, including two goals in the 3-0 victory over Sampdoria last weekend as well as the winner in the Milan derby last month.

Milan currently sit in sixth place in Serie A, three points off neighbours Internazionale.

The former England captain will enter the Milan dressing room as one of the elder statesmen but remains a long way from the 40 years of the iconic Paolo Maldini. The legendary Italian is approaching 900 games for the Rossoneri after delaying his retirement.

With 35-year-old Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Nesta and Seedorf, both 32, and the 31-year-olds Gianluca Zambrotta and Marek Jankulovski among his new team-mates, perhaps Beckham will find a more relaxed approach in the dressing room.

Beckham will also link up with a number of names familiar to the English game. Philippe Senderos joined Arsenal in the same month that Beckham departed Manchester United and is currently on loan at the San Siro, while another former Arsenal player, Flamini, and £30m Chelsea failure Andrei Shevchenko also sport the red and black.

The sight of Gattuso in the dressing room could well stir memories of the England friendly against Italy in Rome in November 2000, when Beckham was awarded the England captaincy for the first time. Gattuso and Beckham were embroiled in a running battle, Gattuso's lashing out at Beckham in the penalty area before scoring the only goal of the game.

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