Could Beckham be the new Pirlo?

October 29, 2008

If David Beckham’s loan move to AC Milan goes through, one of the options coach Carlo Ancelotti has in mind is to use him as an alternative to Andrea Pirlo as a deep midfield playmaker.

It’s an interesting possibility which could help Beckham edge towards Peter Shilton’s record of 125 England caps as a protagonist rather than the bit player he is at the moment.

Beckham certainly has the passing ability to take on Pirlo’s ‘quarterback’ role. If he adapted to it successfully, the switch might help him seize a regular place in Fabio Capello’s side because pace is less of a premium there than it is in his usual position on the wing. Indeed, Pirlo is no Asafa Powell.

Sceptics could counter that Beckham played in the centre of midfield for a while during his time at Real Madrid with mixed results.

But then it was more of a stop-gap measure than a full-blown career move that would require commitment from the player and patience from coaches and team mates as he acquires the vision to dictate from deep.

What’s more, a loan stint at Milan would give him the chance to learn from Pirlo, the game’s undisputed master quarterback.

Pirlo himself started off elsewhere and adapted to this position. He arrived at Milan as a ‘trequartista’, playing behind the strikers, but Ancelotti used him in front of the defence in the 2002-03 season because of injuries to Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini. Player and coach never looked back.

One aspect of Pirlo’s play that is often overlooked is his tackling and ball-winning, essential for someone sat so near to the backline.

But Beckham has never struck me as a shirker when it comes to physical challenges, so he should be able to cope with that side of the job too.

Another question is whether the move might complicate matters for Capello, who already has the problem of finding a way for Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to coexist in the centre of England’s midfield.

But the Italian manager might be tempted by a reinvented Pirlo-style Beckham anyway, as neither Gerrard nor Lampard are that type of player.

Furthermore, Milan have shown that a team can afford to have two playmakers by successfully using Pirlo and Kaka together, as long as the deeper one pulls his weight when the opposition have the ball. England could have Beckham in front of the centre backs and field Gerrard or Lampard further forward in a similar way.

Since changing positions, Pirlo has won two Champions League titles, a Serie A crown and the World Cup with Italy. So it might be worth giving it a try with David.

PHOTO: England’s David Beckham reacts during their 2010 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Kazakhstan at Wembley Stadium, London Oct. 11, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh


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Posted by Soccer Camps » Blog Archive » Could Beckham be the new Pirlo? | Report as abusive

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Posted by Could Beckham be the new Pirlo? | Soccer News Info | Report as abusive

Nice analysis Paul. Im not sure what Andrea Pirlo would think of it though! He’ll be fit again before Beckham arrives (although Becks, LA and Milan havent actually signed anything yet)

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

I can see where you’re coming from but while you’re right he’s not a shirker, Beckham tends to jump challenges and I’m not sure he’s disciplined enough tactically. His greatest strength has always been crossing where he whips the ball in without having to beat his man with pace. If there has to be a replacement or understudy for Pirlo, I’d have Seedorf there.

Posted by richinrome | Report as abusive

Don’t think Beckham will break Shilton’s record and if you consider how few international games were played compared to today when Shilton played it kind of puts his record into perspective. Not only that he had to contend with Ray Clemence for the No 1 shirt. It was amazing that England had two such great goalies at the same time. From memory Clemence won over 60 caps, how many would Shilton have won if there had been no Clemance. And a goalie can only play on one position, unlike someone like Beckham who can go wide or play in the middle like Milan might think of.
How ever many caps Beckham gets it will be a great achievement but not as good as Shilton!

Posted by Rik | Report as abusive

Beckham can learn from Pirlo? Are you kidding? Do you think that ego is over there to re-learn the game? He’s looking to play in Pirlo’s spot, not learn from the guy. C’mon. That’s like saying Barry Bonds is coming to the Yankees and maybe picking up a few pointers from A-Rod. That’s laughable. 10/beckham-milan-deal-done-will-he-come. html

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Could Beckham be the new Flamini?

Posted by Edolino | Report as abusive

[…] received possession behind the line of the ball, giving him a full panorama of the action in front of him. He passed the ball long and short, and after giving it was immediately on the move to initiate the […]

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[…] (when Chopra or Bothroyd weren’t within a whisker of his flowing locks, that is). In this Andrea Pirlo-esque quarterback role, Savage was somewhat ineffectual. It was neat now and then, and he did his wave-breaking […]

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