'Beck'Cam' in place for Beckham debut
TV channel Canal+ will have a specially-dedicated 'Beck'Cam' at the Ligue 1 Classique between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille on Sunday night to follow David Beckham's every step towards his PSG debut.
Having been judged short of match fitness to play against Sochaux last weekend, Beckham, 37, will - in keeping with the storybook narrative of his life - make his Ligue 1 bow against his new team's arch-rivals, becoming the 400th player to don a PSG shirt in the process. Canal+, who will broadcast the game in France and around the world, will use the 'Beck'Cam' to follow the former England captain from his arrival at the Parc des Princes to his entrance onto the pitch.
With Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez both struggling with injuries, Beckham may well be included in Carlo Ancelotti's starting line-up, although TV viewers do face the prospect of watching one of world football's most recognisable faces attempting to stay warm among the PSG substitutes if not.
The ex-Manchester United, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder has dominated build-up to Sunday's encounter - despite the game being between two title challengers - and his clean-cut image has frequently been contrasted with that of on-loan Marseille midfielder and compatriot Joey Barton.
Earlier in the week, Barton, 30, said it was "a compliment" to be considered the polar opposite of Beckham, and that image was reinforced by Friday's edition of France Football, which bears the headline 'Angel and Demon', with Beckham sporting a halo and wings while Barton has been given horns and an impish goatee.
"It's Beauty and the Beast," ex-Marseille forward Tony Cascarino told the magazine, before adding his name to a growing list of those who think Beckham will be a sporting as well as marketing success for the club.
"Yes, there's a circus around Beckham because he's married to Posh Spice. But he's an incredibly gifted player, he would never have lasted so long if he weren't. He can still have an impact, a bit like a kicker in American football. He's still an excellent footballer when he has the ball at his feet. The ability to pick a pass, to work the ball at set-pieces, he hasn't lost that."
Even Lille goalkeeper Steve Elana was asked his opinion on Beckham's arrival and responded favourably, suggesting those who had sneered at the move were merely showing up France's ageist culture.
"I don't see why he won't play well. It's always the same problem in France when you get over 30," the ex-Brest goalkeeper said. "If Beckham can get people into stadiums, if there's interest generated for Ligue 1 because of his arrival and that can bring something to French football, I vote in favour."
PSG appear well capable of developing their own image without the help of Beckham, unveiling on Friday morning their new logo, which will be used from the start of next season. Club president Nasser Al Khelaifi said the logo, which features the Eiffel Tower and the word 'Paris' prominently, was "an important step towards fulfilling our ambition: that of making PSG one of the biggest global sporting brands".
Beckham can already lay claim to that status, and World Cup and Euro 2000 winner Christophe Dugarry laughed off suggestions the English midfielder's spell at the Parc des Princes would be of more financial benefit to him than his club.
"Those who think Beckham is in Paris to do business, it makes me laugh. Beckham doesn't need PSG to do that and be a bit more famous. He's already a world star," the ex-French international turned media pundit told RMC earlier this week. "What an honour to see such a player in Ligue1. Those who criticise him should hold their tongues. In France, we don't like it when you're handsome, rich, famous and nice. He's a guy who's got class, has won everything, and is a big star. I'm not saying he's 100%. It'll be tough for him in a physical league. But even if we see him play just a bit, that would already be great."