Ligue 1 - Beckham: 'More a lifestyle icon than a player'

David Beckham's move to Paris Saint-Germain took the football world by surprise yesterday as he joined the French league leaders on a free transfer.

Ligue 1 - Beckham set for PSG debut against Marseille

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David Beckham, Paris Saint-Germain (Reuters)

Paris woke up on Friday to a wave of Beckham madness, after the 37-year old former England captain signed a five-month contract with one of France's best-known clubs.

Media and public reaction was torn between enthusiasm for a talented player and scepticism at a major marketing ploy by the wealthy Qatari owners of the headline-grabbing club.

Sports daily L'Equipe called the move "A Major Showbiz Coup", while Le Parisien said PSG had bought a "Royal Prize". Analysts were quick to point out the merchandising value of the shirts alone will pull in 17 million euros.

But beyond France and his native England, what has the reaction been to the latest career move of the world's most famous footballer?

We asked our network of offices what they thought...

Luca Stacul, Italy

It was no surprise, even if the timing has been a bit unusual as the whole deal has been fixed very quickly (at least from the media's point of view). It’s about money. Yes, sure, Becks will give his salary to charity, but basically it’s just about selling the PSG brand better in the world and selling the Beckham brand better in Paris. It’s a win-win deal. Beckham is a great businessman, but still has something in his right foot and he already demonstrated that during his loan spells at AC Milan (with Leonardo and Carlo Ancelotti). There will be no real impact on the pitch for PSG, but it’s a good deal to promote the club brand in the UK, USA and possibly Asia too.

Michael Wollny, Germany

PSG cannot surprise anymore as everybody knows they are able to buy dreams. We were more surprised that he is going to donate the money he gets for the deal. It's a glamour factor for that football project in Paris. Nevertheless, Becks is a very experienced player with great spirit and charisma. He could emerge as a role model for the whole team. It's a short-term deal though, so it seems to be a good PR-deal on first sight. Opinions always differ on Beckham. Some focus on his free-kick skills and great passing, other say that he is simply overrated. Whatever, Becks is a great player in my opinion. His life, media and his wife often had shifted the focus far beyond football, but I guess Becks himself never felt really comfortable in this shiny world of red carpets. He loves the green of the pitch and floodlight more than the flashlights.

Jorge Ordas, Spain

This came as a big surprise in Spain. With the project PSG have embarked on, with competitive players, it sounds weird to sign a 37-year-old who is in the last stage of his career. It looks like a commercial transfer but, in fact, Becks has been that for years (Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy...). David Beckham is fondly remembered person in Spain because of his years with Real Madrid. He’s a gentleman and everybody is happy for him to have a last opportunity in Europe. After some years in the MLS, I don’t think he can recover the European level and even less so in a very important team like PSG. As for the club, they need to be patient. All the teams that wanted to be champions the first year they began a big project failed (Man City, Chelsea, Anzhi…). This year they need to build the structure of the team and in two or three years think in terms of bigger objectives.

Efe Yilmaz, Turkey

Actually we are not so surprised because, as we all know, Beckham almost joined PSG last year. As we can see from social media like Twitter and Facebook, football fans are excited about the transfer of Beckham because they think they have a better chance to watch Beckham in action. I think Beckham is nowadays more than a football player, he is a huge brand. And I think it is very special to give his salary which he will take from PSG to a foundation. People will begin to respect and admire him more. In the last two years, PSG has been the main actor in the transfer season. Football fans, who are not so interested in Ligue 1, will begin to watch more games in order to watch stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other big names.

Igor Zelenitsyn, Russia

It was a surprise because of its suddenness. No rumours, no hints and quotes and then Beckham unexpectedly posted a picture on Facebook. But the fact itself of Beckham going to PSG can't be a surprise since PSG is not Qatar or Anzhi. Any movement of any football star generates a huge wave of interest among football fans and Russia is no different. For me, Beckham is more like a lifestyle icon than a superb football player. And all that 'my salary goes to charity' stuff just confirms that. In Russia we use a word 'mastodon' to describe such great people, and Beckham is a mastodon for sure. I don't believe that Beckham's signing will solve the championship race though. He is 37 and has spent the past five years far from European football. Let's be honest and say that if such a player will win a crown for PSG it will show a lot about Ligue 1. But Beckham is a tremendous signing in terms of the image of the club.

Johan Wennerstrom and Tobias Jonsson, Sweden

In Sweden we were very surprised - we didn't see it coming. People generally believe it's a PR-move by PSG, a deal that will lift the project outside the field, so to speak. But of course it's exciting to see him play together with Ibrahimovic, as they could pose a great threat in attack. He is still a very big name. Not as explosive in his early years, of course, but still capable of some magic with his right foot. But we personally don't believe in him very much as a player anymore. On the pitch, PSG would perhaps be better off signing another midfielder. Sneijder would have been a potential move to reinforce the midfield. But outside the pitch, this transfer says that PSG wants to compete on the European market and the PR from the Beckham deal is a very important aspect in that. It's a modern football transfer.

Krzysztof Srogosz, Poland

We knew that last year PSG wanted to hire Beckham. Overall, everyone is thrilled about Beckham's idea to give his earnings to charity. Without a doubt he is a great figure and an icon in the world of football. Every fan knows the English star. When it comes to his skills, we hope we will delight again his great passes with his right foot. That would be fantastic. We are impressed with the club's financial power. Money from the owners creates a great opportunity for the team. The team is being built responsibly, and transfer decisions are considered. This season it will be important to win the French championship. Success in European competition should come next season.

Husam Barakat, United Arab Emirates

In the Arab world Beckham is a model more than a player (Paris is the right place for him to live, then). He is still a very big name, and we all think that PSG will have a star shooter for the free-kicks, but nothing more. We don’t think Beckham can make much of an impact for a very strong team like PSG, but the Parisian club are making a very clever step by getting more international supporters around the world. This transfer obviously means that PSG want to go very big in the European market. Beckham at 37 cannot play very hard, but he can be a good help for the young players, as an example and as a leader.

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