But won't overshadow Zlatan Ibrahimovic
4 February ~ Good news for all those who had bought a Paris Saint-Germain shirt with "Beckham" on the back a year ago. Finally they will be able to wear them without looking ridiculous. David Beckham's arrival will obviously have marketing benefits for PSG but it remains to be seen if a 37-year-old is a real reinforcement for the squad. There is a view in French football that a player of around Beckham's age is unlikely to be much use – for the same reason French pundits didn't understand why Hugo Lloris had to wait so long to take Brad Friedel's place at Spurs.
Yet PSG loaned out three midfielders during this winter transfer window so signing even one reinforcement in the same area of the team makes sense. Besides, Beckham is greatly appreciated by PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, previously his boss at AC Milan. Since the end of 2012 Ancelotti has abandoned his 4-3-2-1 for a classic 4-4-2. In this configuration, Beckham may come on to replace a forward as part of a strengthened three-man midfield. And if Ancelotti decided to try out his "Christmas tree" formation again, it would not be surprising to see the new signing start alongside Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi.
PSG's Qatari owners sometimes give the impression of suffering from a compulsive buying disorder, like the people compelled to look for a good deal on the final day of the sales. Whether this one was arranged hurriedly or had been discreetly prepared for several months, it was very timely. The Qataris need to restore their image after the magazine France Football recently published a detailed investigation into alleged bribery regarding the Gulf state's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
One of these involves former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, UEFA president Michel Platini and Qatar's heir apparent, Prince Taman bin Hamad Al Thani. According to the magazine, Platini's vote was somehow exchanged for Qatari investments in France, including the PSG takeover. Moreover, Beckham's announcement that he will donate his wages to children's charities make the deal "socially acceptable" in a country where redundancies in the manufacturing sector are dominating headlines. PSG will thus be spared a repeat of the controversy sparked by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's astronomic salary when he signed last summer.
Ibrahimovic's arrival was the emblematic moment of the Qatari era. On the pitch he has fulfilled his duty, scoring 20 goals in Ligue 1 so far and contributing to PSG's leading position. Away from football, the whole country seems to be fascinated by him. His character on the TV show Les Guignols, the French equivalent of Spitting Image, expresses himself using only the verb "zlataner" when discussing either football or his daily life. Well-known linguist Alain Rey acknowledged that it sounds perfect in French and suggested that it should mean something like "to dominate". It's doubtful whether Beckham will make a comparable impact but he should still be an asset for a team preparing for their biggest European tie in a generation. PSG play Valencia a week tomorrow in their first Champions League knockout match since 1995. Matthieu Richard