Ligue 1 - Paper Round: Arise, Saint David, the 'Beatle with studs'

Forget the inevitable future knighthood: David Beckham is bypassing that decidedly earthbound step and is going straight for a spot in heaven.


That's the conclusion that Friday's papers come to following Beckham's transfer deadline day move to Paris St Germain, with the Daily Telegraph's "Saint David" saying it all.

Across the Channel the reaction has been no less enthusiastic, with Le Parisien conferring the status of royalty on the new arrival: "Paris treats itself with a royal gift," runs the paper's headline, with the article heralding "an unbelievable marketing stunt for the club and its Qatari owners."

The paper goes on, rather breathlessly, to describe him as "the most famous footballer currently playing... A pop star, a worldwide icon, a Beatle with studs."

L'Equipe also heralds the deal as "a sensational media stunt", but is more circumspect about how well Beckham will do with an untranslatable French pun ("Un Joli Coup de Show") that suggests the heat will be on the player to perform.

"But does he still have the legs? The coming of Beckham questions his current abilities," the paper wonders, adding quotes from insiders at PSG who can't even envisage how he might fit into the team: "I don't see where they can use him," says one.

Both papers round-up quotes from players past and present, with Franck Leboeuf saying he is, "not worried. MLS has no cause to be envious of Ligue 1 on a physical stand," and Fabien Barthez claiming that Beckham, "remains a true football player."

Whatever happens the move ensures that the eyes of the footballing world will be on Beckham and PSG for the time being, with even the normally-sober AFP agency claiming that the deal "puts PSG in another dimension".

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Back on these shores the basis for the British papers' praise of Beckham is the fact that the star - whose endorsements and wages have netted him at least £25 million a year for as long as anyone can remember - is donating his wages at PSG to charity.

The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, and pretty much every paper we have laid our hands on leads its report on Beckham's generosity, with estimates as to how much it's actually worth ranging from £1million to £4 million.

No doubt much of what he loses out will be more than made up for in tax breaks and positive PR, but there's no doubt that it's a magnanimous gesture and one that nobody would have expected him to make.

There are naysayers in the British media, however, with the Guardian's Dominic Fifield scathing of the motivations behind the deal, particularly on the part of PSG's Qatari owners: "The midfielder is actually almost a decade past his best," he writes. "The time to bring in a world famous veteran to push the brand was surely at the start of the project rather than when it was already well under way," he adds, going on to point out that, "Shirts will fly off the shelves and he appears an ambassador in waiting."

For all the column inches devoted to Beckham's Paris match, however, only two made us laugh: first up the Daily Star's brilliant headline saying that Beckham is "full of Eiffel power".

And second, the front page of the Daily Express whose main story headline "Benefit cheat gets a pay rise" is very unfortunately - but we'd have to suspect deliberately - right over the top of their main picture story of the day showing Beckham and pop star-cum-designer wife Victoria.

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The Daily Mail has the best alternative big story on a day when most of the sports sections are, as you'd expect, pushed to the limit covering the final day of the transfer window: Liverpool's one-man strike force Luis Suarez tells the paper in an exclusive interview with Ian Ladyman that he will remain at Anfield no matter what happens to the club.

"I want to say now that, if you want to know what will happen to me if we don't qualify for the Champions League, then I will say this: I have a contract with Liverpool and I am very happy here. I will stay," he told the paper.

He also reveals that Steven Gerrard has helped him enormously, and that his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Delfina can sing the whole of "You'll Never Walk Alone".

Strangest back page lead story of the day goes to the Daily Star, who decide that the biggest news of the day is Alex Ferguson's "fury" at the treatment of Phil Jones by the England hierachy. Fergie is apparently "unhappy" that Jones has been called into the England U21 squad for an upcoming friendly.

And finally, after what was a relatively quiet transfer window, several of the papers carry news of the big deals which got away: the Metro claims Tottenham's chase of Leandro Damiao will have to wait until summer; Napoli's Edinson Cavani is hopeful in the Mirror that his £54m release clause won't derail a summer move to Manchester City or somewhere else; The Independent reports that Shakhtar Donetsk's Willan has got so tired of Chelsea and Spurs dragging their heels that he's joined Anzhi Makhachkala instead; and every paper in the land runs the sad tale of Peter Odemwingie's attempts to leave West Brom ending in tears in the Loftus Road car park.

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