"I'm lucky to have achieved what I've achieved and earned what I have earned. One of the reasons to come here is that we've decided on something quite unique. . . My salary will go to a local children's charity in Paris. I'm not sure it's been done before. I'm very excited about that."
David Beckham, Jan. 31, 2013
Beckham is back, and what a way to announce his return to Europe. The former England international was officially unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Paris time at Parc des Princes’ auditorium, slightly later than billed but worth the wait. The “we” mentioned when talking about his charitable decision - of course - included PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo. Both sat grinning as the 37-year-old revealed that the transfer had taken shape 4 1/2 hours earlier Thursday.
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After a whirlwind 24 hours, which included flying into the capital, passing a medical examination and signing an initial five-month deal, Beckham and PSG took centre stage on the final day of the transfer window. No one - it has to be said - can work an audience quite like Beckham.
"I'm very lucky, I'm 37, I had a lot of offers, more than I've ever had in my career. But I chose Paris because I can see what the club is trying to do, the players they're trying to bring in.
“It's great to be part of something like this, it excites me. I'm honoured to be part of the future of PSG."
His arrival is a strong statement from the club and owners Qatar Sports Investments and a much-needed shot in the arm following a mass exodus of domestic talent this month. It also culminates a yearlong pursuit of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man. Al-Khelaifi was delighted to get his man:
"We're very happy to welcome David to PSG. He is part of our big project, our big dream to become one of Europe's big clubs. This is a big day, we've been trying to get him for a long time. So thank you David for being part of our dream."
With the issue of contract length now taken care of, attention turns to when he will make his PSG debut. Friday’s clash with Toulouse comes too soon and Beckham appeared to rule out the following Friday’s clash with Bastia too, claiming that he “wouldn’t be ready.” That can only mean that he will make his much-anticipated home debut against bitter rivals Marseille at home Feb. 24, setting up a mouth-watering clash with Joey Barton in the process.
Marseille’s on-loan Englishman tweeted his thoughts on the move via Twitter: "Really hope Beckham goes to PSG. Double header against them in French Cup and League back end of Feb at their place." Barton later cheekily added: “He'll be great for French Football. Although, he'll remain 2nd best/best looking, Englishman in France. That'll hurt his confidence!”
Speculation continues regarding how big a role Beckham will play given his fitness, but the signing is still a massive coup for the club on and off the pitch. With a number of players in similar positions having moved on before the end of the transfer window, Beckham increases the competition for places in Carlo Ancelotti’s squad. He didn’t rule out extending his stay in the capital either admitted even if PSG were not still playing Champions League football - they meet Valencia in the round of 16 Feb. 12 away and March 6 at home - he would have signed with the club.
Beckham now has the move he was looking for and the club have got their man at last. Now they have to get it right on the pitch. In a squad that looked short of leadership and influence, Beckham’s arrival looks like it could make all the difference in PSG claiming their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years.