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But any matches in China in the future will only be exhibition games _ such as the one he is scheduled to play in November.

Still, he has a pivotal role to play there.

Developing a youth program is considered a priority for the Chinese Super League, with a mere 8,000 players of all ages registered at local associations in a nation of 1.3 billion people. A weak youth system and rampant corruption have been blamed in part for the Chinese national team’s poor international results. The country has only played once at the World Cup, in 2002.

Beckham wants to play a key part in inspiring and training talented young players who might one day represent their country internationally.

He was praised for his contribution to London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics and any project which has him as a figurehead is guaranteed to spark worldwide interest.

There is also talk of another role _ as part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar _ although that remains uncertain at this stage.

Certainly, there is already a firm link between Beckham and Qatar, with PSG’s owners _ QSI _ finally getting him to join when he went to PSG on the last day of this season’s transfer window.

“It is an immense honor to have convinced him to join,” Al-Khelaifi said.

PSG missed out on Beckham the previous year, and his signing raised a few eyebrows in France.

“I was proud France and PSG could attract a player like David Beckham,” Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis said. “Friends of mine in the PSG dressing room told me what a great professional he is.”

With almost perfect timing, he made his league debut as a substitute against rival Marseille on Feb. 24 and showed his legs could still last the pace by playing 86 minutes against the same team in the French Cup three days later.

Beckham was booked in that game _ a sign of things to come. He lost his temper badly at Saint-Etienne a few weeks later, grabbing and pushing Brazilian striker Brandao after he’d gone in late on PSG teammate Thiago Silva.

Although Beckham has played reasonably well at times during his 13 games so far, most were as a substitute, and he has actually stood out more for his combative streak than for his passing and crossing.

Beckham has set up only one goal, a delightful chipped pass from the right against Rennes that appeared to be going in anyway before top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped himself to another goal.

That performance came in between the home and return leg of the Champions League quarterfinals against Barcelona.

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