“Beckham at PSG…confirmed!”, said RMC Sport, while broadsheet Le Monde responded more soberly, declaring “Beckham signed by PSG (again)”, in reference to the fact Beckham was supposed to have signed for PSG this time last year, before he pulled the plug at the last minute.
Le Figaro talked money, heralding “PSG’s great marketing coup,” while most French media outlets hurried to post “first images” of Beckham departing a Paris hospital.
Website 20 Minutes even poses the question “Can Beckham save the French league 1” noting that despite the superstar's arrival, five French international players left France this winter to ply their trade abroad.
French football responds
French sporting daily L’Equipe got straight to business, asking readers whether Beckham’s presence at PSG would be a boost to their chances of winning the French domestic league, Ligue 1. The verdict – 43% say yes, 57% say no.
Former national team manager Raymond Domenech stood out for his under-statement, when asked for his take by Eurosport. “I don’t know. I’m not up to date.” Domenech, French boss until a disastrous World Cup performance in 2010, was commentating on women’s tennis at the time.
By contrast, current coach of Les Bleus, Didier Deschamps, was slightly more forthcoming. “[Beckham] is a personality who goes beyond the framework of football, a bit like [PSG star striker] Zlatan Ibrahimovic. These are players who can give [French football] Ligue 1 greater visibility abroad. It’s a good thing for Ligue 1.”
Toulouse player Adil Hermach, who could come up against Beckham when his team plays PSG at the weekend was not that impressed.
“I am not going to go easy on him and I won't be asking how Victoria is,” Hermach told 20 Minutes.
Social networks explode
This afternoon, Beckham published a photo of himself on his Facebook page, sitting on a plane to the French capital. Within two hours it had these staggering stats attached to it:
Two tweets that perfectly capture the two different strands of online opinion on the move:
— Matthew Phillips (@Mphillips90) January 31, 2013
Beckham's past it, just going to psg to sell shirts and pick up a retirement pay check
— akinfenwa (@im_adamcopeland) January 31, 2013
Finally, controversial English midfielder Joey Barton, who currently plays for Olympique Marseille, gave his compatriot a welcome (of sorts):
He'll be great for French Football. Although, he'll remain 2nd best/best looking, Englishman in France. That'll hurt his confidence!
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 31, 2013
Beckham's move to the French club has obviously caused a stir among PSG's fans, with most welcoming the move.
“Beckham will bring his winning mentality and professionalism to the team,” PSG fan Nicolas Lartigue told The Local. “He won't play every game but his crosses and free kicks will be a real bonus.
“Ok he's a bit of a grandpa in the world of football but he will be brilliant for the PSG brand, especially in Asia”.
Fan message boards also went into over drive.
“Beckham will play, but only for the last ten minutes. He's been bought just to sell shirts, that's for sure,” said one fan on Forum PSG.