David Beckham may make his Paris Saint-Germain debut earlier than planned after making great strides to improve his fitness.
Beckham, 37, is due to join up with Carlo Ancelotti's squad following Tuesday's Champions League tie at Valencia, and had been expected to make his first appearance in a PSG shirt in the Coupe de France tie with Marseille on February 27. However, after training throughout this week with PSG staff at the National Tennis Centre in London, Beckham may now feature as early as next weekend in the trip to Sochaux.
"He's worked really well, and is going to continue through to Friday. Next week, when we get back from Valencia, he'll be with us," Ancelotti told the press prior to Friday's league game at home to Bastia. "He needs two weeks' work. Perhaps he'll be available for the Sochaux game or the week after. There's no particular problem, just improving his physical condition."
With Beckham not having played competitively since winning the MLS Cup final with Los Angeles Galaxy on December 1, PSG sent Ancelotti's assistant, Paul Clement, fitness coach Simon Colinet and physio Gael Pasquier to work with the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder.
Beckham, who will travel to Spain to watch PSG's Champions League game, told PSG TV: "It's going really well. I feel much better than I did two weeks ago. We're working hard and I like that. Simon and Gael have done some fantastic work. I've trained the whole week and I'm really looking forward to teaming up with the whole squad.
"I'm impatient to meet my new team-mates and discover the Parc des Princes. There are some great players in the team, and I'm really looking forward to training with them and working hard for the club. I hope to be able to help them win something soon."
Wherever Beckham does make his PSG debut, the accompanying clamour from public and opponents alike will most probably be on a scale Ligue 1 has yet to experience. In preparation for the global football icon's arrival, the club's Camp des Loges training ground has been shielded from public view by tarpaulins while the area in which fans used to be able to watch their heroes get put through their paces has been closed.
Though Beckham has lived with such fervour since bursting onto the scene at Manchester United in the mid-90s, even he admitted he had been taken aback by the welcome reserved for him when he arrived in the French capital to sign a five-month deal last month.
"I was on cloud nine. The welcome was extraordinary. The president, Leonardo, the press, the public, it was a great day," he said. "I'll always remember signing my contract, but also my first encounter with the fans, it was really special."