Beckham weighs up last tango in Paris after LA exile nears the end


Click to follow
The Independent Online

You can trace David Beckham's changing priorities on the great football field of life by his postal addresses over two decades. Manchester, Madrid and Milan are great football cities. Los Angeles is not.

Beckham completed his fifth year in the US late on Sunday night with a well-scripted finale, helping create the goal that earned LA Galaxy victory in the MLS Cup final in front of a record crowd. Soccer stardust duly sprinkled, his contract in southern California ends this week and he will spend it considering an offer from the French league leaders, Paris St-Germain. The club's Brazilian director of football, Leonardo, believes that there is a "50-50" chance that Beckham will grace the Parc des Princes after the Ligue 1 winter break.

Paris is more of a football town than LA but it is hardly a great football city. The only professional football club in greater Paris has a passionate fan base, including the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. But the exploits and escapades of the city's club never dominate bar, taxi or playground conversations in Paris as they do in Lyons or Marseilles or Bordeaux.

To most Parisians, male and female, Leonardo is not a Brazilian midfielder turned football executive but a dead Italian painter. If Paris is David's next address, it would be Victoria's choice then? A lifestyle move, not a football move?

Not necessarily. In 41 years of existence, PSG have always been a sort of French Manchester City: perennial underachievers stumbling from one self-inflicted crisis to the next. Now, just like City, they have struck oil.

In August PSG were taken over by Qatar Sport Investment, a joint venture of the Qatari Government and Qatari Olympic Committee. PSG, not City, could now reasonably claim to be the "richest club in the world".

Fourteen games into the Ligue 1 season, and despite losing 1-0 at home to Nancy on Sunday night, PSG are top of the league.

But the bid for an ageing Beckham is not, as Leonardo claims, a symbol of their new-found power. It is an admission of weakness. It betrays a desire to inject short-term glamour rather than build patient, long-term success.