Is Signing David Beckham Good Business for PSG or Just Good Publicity?
It was without a doubt the glamour signing of the January transfer deadline day.
And frankly, David Beckham to Paris-Saint Germain would have had a certain sheen to it even if the closest contenders hadn't been Christopher Samba to QPR and Kevin Phillips to Crystal Palace.
Speculation over Beckham's next step has been rife ever since he announced his departure from the LA Galaxy before the MLS Cup final last year.
Would Becks follow the tried-and-true money path to the Middle East? Would he try to emulate his MLS success in the next big fledgling league, Australia? Could he be lured back home for a nostalgic swansong in the Premier League?
Evidently, all those options and more were on the table. It is testament to the power of the Beckham brand that, according to the player at his PSG unveiling press conference, he received more offers as a 37-year-old than at any other time during his illustrious career.
Ultimately, Beckham made the move that has been on the cards for over a year.
The advantages for the player are obvious, even without the customary massive paycheque, which will be donated to charity. Most notably, PSG offer a last chance at the pinnacle of the game: Champions League football.
But what's in it for the Paris club? Is signing Becks a good move, or is it just a publicity stunt?
The truth is, it's both. Beckham's publicity value alone makes the signing a good piece of business, but not just in the crass sense of selling shirts. There is a complex appeal for a player of Beckham's stature to fit into PSG.
Late-career Beckham is as much an ambassador as a player. And despite a similar provenance in their financial backing, PSG are slightly different from clubs like Anzhi Makhachkala and Manchester City. The PSG project puts more emphasis on creating a dynastic identity than on buying trophy players and hopefully trophies. It is a club with a legitimate role for an ambassador like Beckham.
That, on top of the allure of Champions League football and playing once again alongside world-class talent like Ibrahimovic, Pastore and Thiago Silva, is perhaps the chief draw for Beckham. It is significant that in his press conference, he spoke of being "part of something that is growing" in much the same way he used to speak about the MLS.
Despite all the media noise surrounding his admittedly hyped persona, Beckham has always been a man whose driving force is his love for the game.
An impeccable professional, Beckham can always be counted on to give everything at his disposal—and let's remember that even at 37, that still includes a prodigious talent on the pitch—to advance the game and to help his team.
That makes him a valuable signing for anyone.
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