Beckham's move to PSG leaves many questions
By Chris Higham
When the whole of France's footballing public gathered around their TV sets last Thursday for the unveiling of David Beckham as Paris St Germain's latest foray into the world of Fantasy Football, I was left wondering how a 37 year old midfielder with over six years playing experience in 7the MLS could hope to transform a club struggling to stay ahead in a competitive Le Ligue season.
Since Beckham left the Los Angeles Galaxy back in December of last year following their victory in the 2012 MLS Cup Final, the media has been full of speculation about where "Brand Beckham" would go next. The player himself said categorically that he felt " I have one more challenge left in me", which hinted that maybe he would move to the Chinese League or to the A-League in Australia to end his career. Initial rumours that he would join either Queens Park Rangers or West Ham United in the Barclays Premier League were quickly discounted as he had always said that his time with Manchester United would prevent a return to England from happening.
Personally, I had always thought that he would go to Australia, as that represented more of "the challenge" he had spoken about. When looking at Beckham's options, family considerations were always uppermost. His love of Los Angeles as a home base meant any decision would be hard, and because of that , China looked out of the question . His age, I felt, hampered his decision also as there aren't many places a tiring 37 year old can play these days, especially in Europe. His loan period at AC Milan while he was at the Galaxy was a success simply because of the somewhat sedentary style of Serie A. There was no doubt that other Leagues would not be as accommodating this time around.
When Beckham came to London over the Christmas period and began training with Arsenal last week, the "London club" rumours began all over again but were quickly doused. The Australian venture, which seemed very likely at one point, had been nixed by Beckham's sponsors who felt he would be too far away from the spotlight that they needed for him to redeem their sponsorship costs. Options were quickly being narrowed and a previous thought that PSG would jump in for the former England midfielder started to gain traction once more. Lo and behold, last week, we were told that Paris was in fact the destination, for five months only, and that his salary would be given to a French children's charity.
So what can PSG and Beckham expect from each other? Frankly, there is not an awful amount of time for much glory as there are only 15 games left in the Le Ligue season, but a Champions League tie against Valencia will be the first order of business. PSG provides a stable platform for Beckham as he renews his relationship from his days at Milan with Manager Carlo Ancelotti, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Thiago Silva. Ibrahimovic will be licking his lips for sure at the thought of Beckham's delivery from dead ball situations but what worries me, is the physical nature of the French League. Many African players come to France to start their careers and they are strong, fast and physical. Beckham will find the going tough and I certainly don't expect him to start many matches. His value to the team hasn't been explained by the French as much more than "it gives our team greater visibility" and "it's a marketing coup for the club". I believe he'll be much more than that. He'll play the role of the cavalry in the second half of important matches, and will, I think, contribute something to PSG's quest for trophies this season.
David Beckham has always polarised opinion, particularly in England, but one thing no-one can doubt is his professionalism and attitude. He will give 110% to the people at PSG and we know he has the burning desire for the big stage. His time in Paris will be short but if, by chance PSG progress to the Final of the Champions League, will anyone bet against David Beckham scoring the winning goal from a trademark free-kick at Wembley Stadium in May for Paris St Germain?
I certainly won't.