Becks is back – but can't get in Milan's team

It's so good to have David Beckham back to sweep away the January blues.

There he is, smiling away in a manner only the recession-proofed or the simple-minded can get away with – bringing cheer to one and all during his week or so back in Italy.

Unfortunately his bid to win over Fabio Capello could well be scuppered – by AC Milan.

Well, Leonardo anyway.

Having seemingly won his gamble to revamp Carlo Ancelotti’s tired, old system, the Brazilian can now phase out a few of the old guard in January and get on with rebuilding the team in his own image.

Clearly Beckham does not come into the long-term thinking – or, it seems, the short term either.

Even if Silvio Berlusconi is currently keeping his mouth shut for once – not through choice, it has to be said – he no doubt expects such a star name to be playing regularly.

The question is: Where?

There have been suggestions that he could be the answer to the Rossoneri’s troublesome right-back position.

Whatever one thinks about Becks, popping up at right-back does not immediately spring to mind.

"Where d'you want me, y'know?"

Certainly occupying such a role at club level would harm his chances of heading off to South Africa in the summer.

Leonardo might try to side-step the issue by claiming he's well stocked at full-back, but with Massimo Oddo currently out injured there is only one natural right-back in the squad – Gianluca Zambrotta, who has spent more time on the left of late.

Switching Beckham into an unfamiliar role just to ensure that his name is on the team-sheet is a recipe for disaster and could well undo the progress made by the team up until now.

Ignazio Abate has been converted from a wide midfielder into that position, but what he lacks in relevant experience he makes up for in blistering pace – which has been crucial on the rare occasions when Alessandro Nesta has been caught on the hop.

There may be other berths for Becks.

It seems that the club have decided that the best course of action is to "rest" either Clarence Seedorf or Andrea Pirlo as a precaution against aggravating “niggling” injuries.

"Oh, hello, here he comes"

Even then the Englishman doesn't seem a ready-made replacement for either.

He certainly doesn't have the smoothness going forward that is such a feature of Seedorf’s game, or the ability to remain in front of the back four to allow play to be built around him, which is Pirlo’s forte.

That leaves the most natural option as doing the donkey work alongside Pirlo, although it would leave club captain Massimo Ambrosini and vice-captain Rino Gattuso feeling more than slightly miffed if they were left out.

"Is he behind me, Rino?"

True, Gattuso has been marginalised of late – partly through injury and partly through Leonardo flexing his managerial muscle in a show of strength after Rino lost the plot in the derby – but there is no doubting his commitment if given a chance.

Ambrosini, meanwhile, is having probably the best run of form in his career – thanks in part to his acknowledgement that he can't pass the ball like Pirlo, so all he needs to do is win it and lay it off.

Will Becks be able to handle that role? And if not, will it unbalance Milan at such a crucial stage of the season?

The answer to what happened against Genoa is already out there (or will be if you are reading late on Wednesday), but there is still Juventus, Inter and Fiorentina coming up to test Leonardo’s resolve and how best to integrate Italy’s favourite Englishman. More to read...

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