Arguably the biggest deal of the January transfer window this year was one regarding a free agent, who stole the headlines and joined one of the world’s rapidly emerging superpowers. David Beckham signed a five-month contract at Paris Saint Germain and will likely conclude his glittering career in the French capital.
Beckham had more offers at this stage of his career than any before—signalling the worldwide attraction that he still carries at the age of 37. Clubs from every continent tried to secure the former England captain’s services, but it was the glamour of Paris that clinched it for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Despite the interest, I’d be surprised if Beckham had given any serious consideration to any of the other offers that landed on his table. Everything makes sense at PSG, from the size of the club and relationships with both manager and teammates, to the living arrangements and location.
Beckham confirmed in his press conference that his wife and children would live in London, with the 37-year-old flying to France every week for training and matches.
But after these five months have passed, it’s time for Becks to call it a day.
Nine league titles in three different countries, 115 caps for England and a reputation surpassed by no other Englishman mean that Beckham simply has nothing left to prove. He has been successful—both on and off the pitch—everywhere he has been and his effect on the clubs he’s played for has been monumental.
Los Angeles Galaxy instantly became the most well-known MLS club around the world when Beckham signed from Real Madrid and the commercial impact they gained from the deal is still paying dividends today. The shirt sales alone transformed the clubs finances and the same will happen at PSG, with shirts bearing “Beckham No. 32” on the back.
The Beckham effect is now at a point where clubs look to sign the 37-year-old for his commercial impact more than his skills on the pitch. The Beckham brand is so big that his signature can transform a clubs' fortunes and set them up for the next decade or longer.
That’s not saying he can’t hack it on the pitch anymore, because anyone who has seen him play recently will know that he can still find his intended target with his laser-like long passing and inch-perfect crosses.
Saying that, I’d be surprised if Beckham played a major role on the pitch for PSG in the next five months, with the French outfit blessed with options in every department. Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta are Ancelotti’s preferred central midfield partnership, while Brazilian star Lucas Moura holds the right wing berth which Beckham once excelled in.
The Englishman’s impact will mainly be off the pitch, with his commercial pull bringing in even more money for the oil-rich Paris club. He will certainly get some playing time though, most likely brought on from the bench for a cameo role.
The length of the contract at PSG also signals that the hierarchy at the French club want Beckham to move into some kind of ambassadorial role once the deal comes to an end. Beckham was a major part of Great Britain’s bid to bring the Olympic Games to London, so previous experience make him a perfect candidate to carry on working for PSG—or any other club—in a boardroom-level role.
One thing is for sure: When Beckham finally hangs up his boots, he can look back on an unrivalled career at the top of the game, safe in the knowledge that he has left a legacy wherever he has been.