“A funny photo, a red card and a tax scam” was the headline on one French news site that looked back at the contribution of global superstar David Beckham during his time as a PSG player.
The player may have been feted in England, Spain, the United States and even Italy after announcing his retirement but in France, where he finished his career, there was an undoubted feeling of deflation after an underwhelming time at PSG.
When Beckham arrived in PSG at the end of January the club's oil rich Qatari owners presented him to the world like a proud man showing off his brand new Ferrari to his friends.
But after four very months in which he played a total of just 460 minutes of football, most people in Paris will be forgiven for thinking ‘what was all the fuss about’.
Because Beckham is no longer a Ferrari of course, more like a vintage Rolls Royce, whose engine had packed in. Hence why the Nouvel Observateur summed up his impact by referring to a photo of him slipping while wearing a suit on a marketing trip to China (see photo), a red card in the league match against Evian and confusion around his salary and how it was taxed.
(screenshot Nouvel Obs)
“Ultimately, this adventure has been a history of advertising, comms 'and marketing, and nothing else,” said French football blogger Bruno Roger-Petit. “In terms of football Beckham will have brought nothing to PSG, because he did not come for that reason. His presence is just a little anecdote in the history of the club.”
Beckham’s time at PSG coincided with the French club winning their first league title in 19 years, but in reality the former Manchester United player did little to contribute to that success.
“In terms of what he did for PSG it’s a little disappointing,” Ronan Folgoas, PSG correspondent for French daily Le Parisien told The Local. “It a shame he did not play more than he did. In the end he was only on the pitch for a total of 230 minutes in league games. That’s the equivalent of two and half matches.
“You cannot say he was phenomenal. He did not score, there were no trademark free kicks to and he only made one decisive pass,” Folgoas said.
Despite the lack of any memorable moment in a PSG shirt, Folgoas believes that Beckham did show enough quality during his limited time on the pitch to merit his signing.
“You could still see he was a good player and he played an important role in certain matches, including the games against Marseilles in the league and in the cup but maybe the general public will not remember that,” Folgoas added.
Other memorable images of Beckham’s time in Paris was the ovation he was given by fans when he made his debut and the way he immediately repaired his hair do after a clash with Marseille’s Jordan Ayew (see video).
“The English star has not left the impression he was a key player in the successful title chase,” read an article in French daily 20 Minutes.
Fans of the club also lamented the lack of influence that the man who was once credited with carrying the England teal to the 2002 World Cup had as a PSG player.
"Sporting wise he has not done much," a PSG fan named Nico, from Paris told The Local. "He had a couple of good games against Marseille and Barcelona, but he was too limited defensively, because of his age."
But off the pitch most agree that Beckham proved a worthwhile signing. PSG’s sporting director Leonardo said recently that “Beckham was signed for photos, press conferences and to sell T-shirts.” Despite the Brazilian’s sarcasm it was obvious to most that Beckham had been drafted in to sell boost the global image of the club.
And no one can doubt that Beckham’s presence at PSG increased the level of global media interest in the club. After his arrival PSG matches were shown in Japan for the first time and a study by the agency Kantar Sport revealed 42,000 news articles on the web, TV or written press were dedicated to Beckham since he arrived in Paris.
One place in Paris where Beckham’s presence will have been greatly appreciated is the Bristol Hotel, where the star’s suite cost a rumoured €17,000 a night.
The local children's charities, who were set to be the beneficiaries of the star's entire salary, will also be thrilled Beckham came to Paris. The only problem is no one know which charities have benefited. The club has so far refused to release any information regarding the subject.
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