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After 22 years in the professional game, David Beckham is bringing down the curtain on one of the most illustrious and storied careers of the modern era. The 38-year-old has decided that the time is right to seek pastures new despite only signing for Paris Saint-Germain at the end of January. Am I surprised? Not at all. Is it the right decision? I would say so. But, that does not deter the fact that although his time in Paris has been considerably short, it has been sweet to have him at the Parc des Princes.
You could really sense the end was nigh for the veteran ever since he signed for the club in truth. It has been increasingly evident that those weary legs were not what they used to be and he has struggled to adapt to the physically challenging game in Ligue 1. Perhaps, there was a perception on his part that it would be a walk in the park. Let’s face it, to outsiders looking in the league is not considered to have that same frenetic and exuberant tempo or style of other leagues in Europe. But there lies the problem. The game in France is physical, it is draining and let us not forget that the technical aspect is also very good. You need high energy levels to play your trade in it and even though he did his utmost, it was blatantly obvious that it was too much for a 38-year-old to overcome, even if it was David Beckham.
Carlo Ancelotti has sensed this as well you feel. As of late, the Englishman has found his playing time reduced to nothing more than a handful cameo appearances in the dying embers of games with no significance to them. Clement Chantome has been utilised a whole lot more since the Champions League exit to Barcelona which was not the case when Beckham first arrived. Becks was utilised a whole lot more at the beginning but that is only natural with a new signing. It has been frustrating ever since for him though really and you could sense it in his mannerisms. He found himself embroiled in silly spats with opposition players when he came off the bench which he did not have to get involved in. That all simmered to the boil when he was sent off in Evian a few weeks ago. Maybe that was the point when he thought enough is enough?
When he did sign in January he did generate a buzz with the fans. His arrival was unique, something which Paris Saint-Germain has not seen too often. Did the euphoria beat that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival? I would say no but it was still marquee nevertheless. This is a player who is universally known around the world and he brought all that with him to the French capital. His name if anything did more for the club overnight than say half a dozen tours around the world. Safe to say people with no interest in Ligue 1 became more aware of it, especially PSG. This is a club that is rapidly growing as a European power and Becks has played a part in that, no question.
The most striking thing about David though is his humility. He was delighted to sign for the club and we were all the more grateful that he wanted to come here in the first place. He integrated into the squad superbly and even though he cannot speak a word of French, he has rapidly become one of the most popular players in the dressing room. He and Mamadou Sakho in particular share a lovely bond with one another and the Frenchman has had a twinkle in his eye because of him. The young breed has learnt so much in the man’s presence and that alone is good for their future and the club.
Unfortunately, his playing time has been minimal at best. Just a few starts and late cameo appearances off the bench is all we have been able to see. Starting the game against Barca in the UEFA Champions League rose more than a few eyebrows and even though he was lambasted by the press in France – particularly by L’Equipe who gave him a 3/10 – I personally felt he more than held his own in the first-half. However, you could see after the interval his fitness had diminished but that is down to age, nothing else. The fact that Ancelotti picked him to start that game is a testament in itself because he trusted him to do a job which he did for 40 minutes. But, Lionel Messi had other ideas.
So, he has two games left before he hangs up his boots. With the title wrapped up you would feel he will start at least one, most probably at the weekend at the Parc against Brest. It is a nice way for him to end a sensational career with another league title. It has been an honour for the football club to be in his mere presence. We have played a small part in one of the game’s most extraordinary careers and for him to finish it here will always be remembered. It would be lovely to see him at least net a goal before he departs.
So what next? There was a one-year contract on the table from the club but Nasser Al-Khelaifi said if he was to retire, he would want him involved at the club in some capacity. It remains to be seen if that happens. It will become clearer in the summer but hopefully he and the club can agree on some project in which he is involved.
For now, he will look to enjoy his last 10 days as a professional footballer. Even though his time at Paris Saint-Germain has been brief, it has been a pleasure to have him adorn the navy blue shirt.
Best of luck David in the future and happy retirement.