You can say what you like about his footballing abilities, the fact that he left Europe to play in a 'mickey mouse' league or the fact that he is probably more known in the last few years for 'Brand Beckham' than for the skills which lit up the English Premier League a dozen or so years ago but the news that the former England captain has joined PSG on a five month deal with his salary being donated to a local children's charity says something about the man.
It would have been easy to take the Sheikhs shilling (or Euro) and sit on the bench for all but 10 minutes of each game for the next five months but Beckham said tonight in his PSG conference that he is with the club for the long haul. He sees his role as being beyond that of a footballer at the end of his career and came across more as an ambassador for the club to build up 'Brand PSG' - a club that aren't even the biggest in France at present and which three years ago only survived relegation from Ligue 1 in the last couple of games. Of course it also gives French football a bigger space in the shop window, certainly ESPN's coverage has helped this season but the French league is still ranked someway below England, Germany, Spain and Italy in terms of television coverage and worldwide revenues, Beckhams appeareance, either on or off the field, will help raise its profile.
When the news broke of the transfer mid morning today the messageboards and phone-ins greeted it with a certain degree of cynicism and scepticism. Beckham has won all there is to win at club level, in England, Spain and USA and returning to Europe to play for one of the current rich mans playthings seemed yet another cynical exercise in self promotion - something I suppose the press conference and this post only confirms. It was obvious though, watching him address the hundreds of journalists at the Parc Des Princes this afternoon that this is more about football.
This is the one big final move in his career, a move in exchange for no remuneration but the opportunity of being part of something that has evolved very quickly and which now needs to settle down and find its own level. PSG has quickly lost its connection with some of its roots, the influx of overseas money - not just into the football club it has to be said - has alienated and confused many PSG followers and todays announcement was initially met with some bemusement although perhaps Joey Barton offered the best comment:
He'll be great for French Football. Although, he'll remain 2nd best/best looking, Englishman in France. That'll hurt his confidence.
Le Parisien described Beckham as being 'A Phenomenon in Paris' and was quick to seek out the great and the good for quotes and opinions on the latest galactico to join the only top flight club in the City of Lights.
Whenever the club signs a new player the club shop on the Champs celebrate by covering the outside of the building with a giant poster of the incoming superstar. I would imagine that by this evening a huge 'Welcome David' banner and photograph will appear. Up until this point PSG have been assembling an all star cast of experience and youth, of big names and hope to be names, this signing today takes the club into another league in one move.