PARIS: A year after the prospect was first raised, David Beckham has joined Paris Saint-Germain before the expiry of today’s transfer deadline writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
When Beckham completed his contract with Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer last autumn he insisted he had ambition and fitness for one more contract. Speculation had suggested a move to the Qatar league and now he has managed almost as much without the inconvenience of straying far from his English home and family.
Paris Saint-Germain were bought in 2011 by the Qatar Investment Authority which has invested record sums, for French football, in the club and squad.
Over the past 18 months they have been the leading spenders in Europe to the tune of more than £200m and they signalled a will to maintain that status by completing the signing of Brazilian Lucas Moura from Sao Paulo for £24m earlier this month.
The club’s increased its financial power recently with a major new commercial deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority which will invest up to €200m-a-year in the club over the next three years. The deal is worth twice the club’s revenues for the 2010-11 season but president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has insisted the club intends to go on spending.
Beckham, of course, will cost nothing in transfer terms.
The former England captain worked under PSG technical director Leonardo and coach Carlo Ancelotti during a loan spell with Milan in the spring of 2009. Beckham returned there on loan a year later but that spell was curtailed by a Achilles tendon injury which also ruled him out of possible selection for the 2010 World Cup finals.
Beckham will be clear to play for PSG in the Champions League this spring. PSG topped Group A ahead of Porto, Dynamo Kiev and Dinamo Zagreb and play Valencia in the second round in the knockout stage.
If they progress Beckham might find himself lining up in the quarter-finals against one of his two previous European clubs, Manchester United and Real Madrid, who face each other in the second round.
Beckham, who has been training with Arsenal, is understood to have received firm offers from 12 different clubs after announcing he wished to set up a permanent family home in London.
Beckham, who made a record 115 outfield appearances for England, won the Champions League with United against Bayern Munich in Barcelona in 1999. He left Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2003 and joined Galaxy in 2007.
He attracted criticism from some Galaxy fans after agreeing loan moves to AC Milan in 2009 and 2010 which meant missing some of the MLS season.
Off the pitch Beckham, despite approaching the end of his career, is considered probably the most valuable sports image ‘brand’ in the world. He played a major promotional role in helping London win host rights to last year’s Olympic Games and brought the torch up the Thames to the Opening Ceremony.