After weeks of speculation, David Beckham has finally chosen to reunite with former coach Carlos Ancelotti at PSG, much to the surprise of the manager himself. His surprise is not down to his reluctance to sign the player nor his faith in Beckham as an athlete but mostly at Beckham’s decision to join knowing that he will be likely be used as a pawn for the owners in their quest for world football domination. The mega rich Qatar-owned club see Beckham not as the piece of the puzzle missing that will help them win the league or the Champions league, instead viewing Beckham as the brand that will give them crucial inroads into the valuable Asian and US commercial markets.
Despite PSG’s vast wealth and rising pool of talent, they have so far been unable to crack the Japanese market, that is paved with golden opportunities for advertising and merchandise sales. In a world where additional sources of revenue become more valuable to a club than conventional ones like TV and player sales, the soccer mad Asian market, in particularly Japan and China offer more than their fair share of interesting prospects. Additionally the Qatar owners are looking westwards towards America with aspirations to open up a PSG offset franchise in the MLS, one that could act as a feeder club, both for players and revenue. Beckham holds the keys to both markets, having starred in one and being adore in the other.
The Beckham brand is now gone global but is only half of what the player is. At the heart of it still beats a footballer who wants to win trophies, cups and awards with whatever club he plays for. Beckham knows that the two go hand in hand and by joining PSG, both parties will gain from the partnership. Beckham has a chance at picking up yet another league title in another country, which would take his tally to four. With PSG storming Ligue 1, the title looks on the cards and would require very light lifting on the part of Beckham to make that happen. Indeed game time might be something he struggles with in Paris as Ancelotti already has amassed a squad full of talent in every position. And at 37, Beckham isn’t quite as able to get up and down the pitch as much as he would like. But to be fair this is not his core competence and has never really been the Ryan Giggs or Gareth Bale type of player. Beckham relies heavily on his unique array of passing and dead ball expertise to add value to any team he plays in and so far this has worked for him. At LA he tried to adapt his game and play deeper than he has previously in a defensive playmaker type role but was found wanting on several occasions due to his lack of pace and defensive capabilities. But in Ancelotti and PSG Beckham has a manager and team that only need him to do what he does best and still be successful.
The former England captain knows he has one maybe two years left and wants to leave on a high rather than whimper out of the back door or fall into a lower league in England or in Europe where he will fade quicker and less publicly. After all this is a man who has built a brand recognisable by many across the globe and for all he protests around intrusion into his personal life, loves the attention he has gained through the years. But credit where credit is due, Beckham as worked hard to get where he is today, both on the pitch and off it. If PSG is to be his final swan song, then Beckham has chosen a club that could give him a send off like no other as a champion, in exchange of course for a small piece of Brand Beckham to be used across Asia and the US. Looks like a fair deal to me.