David Beckham: What does Paris St-Germain move hold for veteran
David Beckham was all smiles and charm when he was presented to the media at the Parc des Princes on Thursday, yet the hastily arranged news conference ultimately threw up more questions than it answered.
Notably why has the former England captain really decided to join Paris St-Germain? Why have the nouveau riche club opted to recruit the 37-year-old now? And what will Beckham's role be at PSG for the next five months - and possibly even beyond?
PSG's flirtation with Beckham first surfaced back in September 2011 when sporting director Leonardo told the BBC he was keen to lure the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star to the French capital having enjoyed working with him at AC Milan.
There is no doubt Leonardo's close relationship with Beckham, and the admiration he holds for him, was a pivotal factor in the move. The Brazilian was struck by Beckham's work ethic and professionalism during his loan spells at the San Siro in 2009 and 2010 and says he has always wanted to be reunited with the Englishman at some stage.
How Beckham wooed Paris
- Despite arriving late for his unveiling, Beckham looked relaxed and happy in his new surroundings as he addressed the media scrum.
- Smartly dressed in suit and matching tie, the veteran of 115 England caps turned on the charm as he gave full answers to every question put to him.
- Provoked laughs with his very first answer when asked about speaking French. "I'm definitely going to have to brush up on it," said the 37-year-old. "I haven't spoken French since I was at school."
- The most revealing aspect of the news conference was that he is to donate his wages to a French children's charity.
- With the news conference about to finish, Beckham insisted on answering questions from two journalists who had been trying to ask him about his move but had been continuously overlooked.
Meanwhile, PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was in charge of the Rossoneri during Beckham's first Italian sojourn, left a deep impression on the midfielder.
"Carlo is one of the best managers I've ever played for," Beckham said on Thursday.
But while Beckham is thrilled to be playing for Ancelotti again, the ex-Chelsea manager's thoughts on the transfer are less clear.
With PSG having spent more than £200m on world-class talent over the last 18 months, Ancelotti already has a job on his hands selecting 11 players from his star-studded squad.
Indeed, in November the Italian dismissed rumours PSG might come back in for Beckham, merely wishing the then-LA Galaxy player "good luck" in his future club. This month, Ancelotti has repeatedly said PSG would not be making any further signings, having already spent £34m on Brazil prodigy Lucas Moura.
The BBC's revelation that Beckham was Paris-bound took most people in France by surprise. Maybe even Ancelotti. L'Equipe reporter Damien Degorre, who specialises on the capital club, is not convinced Beckham's arrival will help the manager.
"This is nothing more than a media stunt," the journalist told BBC Sport. "What is Beckham the footballer going to bring to PSG at this stage of his career?"
Many more in France are sceptical. "It's good for the marketing department, but is it a good signing from a football perspective?" wondered ex-PSG defender Milan Bisevac, who now plays for title rivals Lyon. "I'm certainly not more afraid of PSG than I was."
The big names at PSG
Director of football:
Leonardo - former Brazil international
Carlo Ancelotti - former Juventus, Milan and Chelsea boss
Thiago Silva - signed from AC Milan for £34.3m
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - former Juventus, Inter and Barcelona striker, signed from AC Milan for £15.7m
Javier Pastore - signed from Palermo for a Ligue 1 record £37m
Lucas Moura - signed from Sao Paulo for £34.25m
Beckham said he is not taking a first-team place for granted - and nor should he.
With Lucas, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore competing for the three attacking midfield roles behind front-man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he will surely be targeting one of the two central midfield berths. But there is already stiff competition there too with Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti all impressing this term.
In reality, Beckham's biggest contribution could be the influence he exerts on his team-mates off the pitch. For all PSG's talent, they have struggled to gel under Ancelotti, often resembling a collection of individuals all looking to out-do one another.
With Beckham around, setting an example on the training ground, young guns like Pastore and Menez might think twice before showing off or breaching discipline.
Beckham's professionalism, experience and ability may well help PSG in their bid to clinch the domestic double and go as far as possible in the Champions League - they face Valencia in the last 16 - but by signing the world's most marketable footballer, PSG's owners, Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), are hoping to reap benefits that go far beyond the end of the current season.
World Cup hosts in 2022, Qatar appears to be working hard to develop its global image through the medium of football. By signing one of the most liked and celebrated figures in the world game, QSI - an investment vehicle for the Qatari royal family - are making sure PSG receive plenty of coverage around the world.
Beckham announcing he will very generously donate his wages to a French children's charity will help ensure that coverage is wholly positive.
It should also be noted that PSG's president Nasser Al-Khelaifi fulfils multiple functions, including director of Al Jazeera Sports.
The Middle Eastern television network has recently spent heavily on acquiring Ligue 1 television rights, both for domestic and international broadcasting, thus enhancing Qatar's already very close relationship with France. Al-Khelaifi knows that if Ligue 1 becomes a more attractive brand, the product that Al Jazeera Sports are marketing becomes more valuable.
Neither Leonardo nor Al-Khelaifi were prepared to rule out the possibility of Beckham's collaboration with PSG extending beyond the summer - and Beckham was fairly non-committal when asked about filling an ambassadorial role at PSG after his contracts ends in June.
"I don't see this as a short-term project," he said. "I consider myself part of the club's future. I'm part of this project… helping the club become one of biggest powerhouses in football."
Beckham did rule out the possibility of making his debut this weekend, suggesting he would need "a few weeks" to get up himself to speed. The role he eventually plays when he is fully fit is just one intriguing sub-plot in a fascinating story.