It has been 15 months in the making but finally Paris Saint-Germain captured the signing of a global superstar. David Beckham completed his shock move to Les Parisiens which was not foreseen by anyone except those closely tied to the club. It appeared that the club’s interest had waded in the 37-year-old since he opted to stay with Los Angeles Galaxy in the fall of 2011 when it looked a foregone conclusion he would make the move to France. However, a year or so on, PSG have brought in a man that will attract attention both on and off the pitch with the spotlight brighter than it has ever been on the capital club.
The nature of the deal was the most surprising. It just came out of absolutely nowhere and it was revealed that talks between both parties had commenced at 1am on Thursday morning. Before we knew it, Beckham was on a jet to Paris just before noon, had his medical soon after before signing an initial contract to the end of the season. Just like that – done deal.
The media entourage that followed was scary. There were fewer than 200 journalists at the Parc des Princes for his unveiling, more so than those who attended Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s inaugural presser last summer. This is what PSG wanted and my word they have got it. The man is box office and the immediate exposure he has given to the club in the matter of hours is quite unique. This is a big club, no question about that, but when you have a David Beckham in your ranks – a player who dwarfs other in terms of fame – it is going to make it even greater.
Make no mistake about it, this is a coup for the club. Yes, we have the financial clout to lure such a renowned name but as he revealed in his press conference, money was not the reason he wanted to come. He is humbly giving his salary to a children’s charity in the city. What an amazing gesture by a man who many would harshly claim is a mercenary. Far from it, he is not in this for the cash, he does not need it. The attraction was the project of the club which is going at the speed of a runaway train with each passing month. You look at the club to what it was when QSI took over, it is unrecognisable in terms of the calibre of player we have and where we are going. Challenging for the title, in the Champions League, Thiago Silva, Ibrahimovic, plans for a new training ground, an expansion at the Parc – Beckham wants to be a part of all that and help lay another brick in the foundation of an amazing future for the club.
Leonardo and Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi have wanted this deal to come to fruition ever since both shook hands in the June of 2011 and rubber stamped the Brazilian’s move to the club as director of football. Leo revealed in an interview with the BBC soon after his inauguration that one player he would love to lure was indeed Beckham. He and QSI identify the marketing juggernaut of the name alone and shirts will fly off the shelves with ‘Beckham 32’ on the back. That is not in doubt, the club will reap so much from that side but is the signing purely just for that? What about his ability as a footballer?
I am going to speak from a personal point of view on this. Beckham for me is without question the greatest distributor of a ball I have ever seen. He has an unrivalled ability to put the ball on a sixpence and very rarely fails. His accuracy to play those delightful crosses into the box and produce match winning Hollywood passes is frighteningly good. He has never been blessed with pace, nor skill, but in terms of passing prowess, he is up there with the best – both with his long and short game.
Even at 37-years of age, he has proved just how fit he is. His legs have not gone and neither has his footballing brain. He understands the game, can read it, readjust, and play to his strengths. That is why he will flourish in Ligue 1. Carlo Ancelotti will utilise him quite easily, most probably slotting him alongside Blaise Matuidi just in front of the back four. There he can release the ball for the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura, Jeremy Menez and of course Ibrahimovic who will revel on getting his head on those long balls.
Let us not forgot another thing, he is a winner. Won just about everything there is to in the game at club level, Beckham’s experience will be another fundamental asset to have if we are to win a league title this year. He has done it, experienced it, and that for me it is vitally important. He knows what it takes to win titles and you cannot have too many of them in the squad. It is invaluable.
The ingredients are there, it is an exciting venture for both parties. Beckham will bring a far greater good to this club than if he did not arrive. It is a masterstroke in my opinion by QSI and Leonardo and the willingness for Beckham to come here – playing for free – speaks volumes about the individual.