No word yet on David Beckham's plans for the new year -- he's still wavering between the Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain, it appears -- but should he decide the best destination is the French capital, he'll find not everybody there is pleased to see him.
Politicians on the left have bashed the numbers in his reported 18-month, $18.7 million contract offer -- about $240,000 a week -- and the opposition Socialist Party is proposing legislation that would make such deals illegal.
Beckham would be the best-paid athlete in France if he accepts the PSG deal. Newspapers last week reported he had agreed in principle with the Ligue 1 leader, and Agence France Presse reported that he might sign while attending a tennis tournament next week in Qatar, home to the club's owners. Beckham's representatives called it “premature” speculation and denied the midfielder, who is vacationing in London, had made a decision about his future.
British broadsheet The Telegraph, citing sources in the Beckham camp, reported Thursday that Beckham has scuttled offers from Brazil, Italy and the Middle East and is seriously considering another season in Los Angeles.
Some French politicians, perhaps preparing for next year's presidential election, began railing against the Beckham contract numbers last week.
“I’ve had enough of these enormous salaries,” French Socialist MP Jean-Marc Ayrault told Britain's Daily Express. “It’s not just with football players, but also businessmen who should have their salaries capped.”
Eva Joly, a judge who is running for president, called the numbers “shocking” and questioned the wisdom of paying a player of Beckham's age -- he'll be 37 in May -- so much money.
“It’s not a game, it’s business,” said the judge, who has followed an anti-corruption agenda. “At his age and with the state of his knees, he’s going to be selling T-shirts. The salary is shocking because of the economic crisis and an example of how huge sums of money are concentrated in the hands of very few people.”
Beckham's knees, by the way, are just fine. His lower back is perpetually weary, but the man's in exceptional shape for 36. Whether that's enough to succeed in France isn't so certain, suggests former French star Robert Pires, who last spring wrapped up an 18-year career with big clubs in France, England and Spain.
“Beckham could really help PSG in the second part of the season if he is in really good physical shape,” Pires told British tabloid The Mirror. “I don't doubt about his ability, but it will be hard for him to maintain his rhythm and complete games for a club like PSG. His age could be overcome by bringing in a level of experience and intelligence to the squad which could be important.
“Beckham will be important for the forwards and his assists can be very useful. But the adaptation to European football again may be difficult.”
Beckham is not PSG's only target. The club also is pursuing Real Madrid midfielder Kaká and AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato, and French winger Florent Malouda, who plays at Chelsea, could be approached following Carlo Ancelotti's arrival.
PSG scheduled a news conference for Friday to, it is expected, introduce Ancelotti as manager. The Italian has been out of work since he was dismissed as Chelsea's manager last spring.
NO RONNIE?: Ronaldinho, whose name has been bandied as a potential replacement should Beckham go to PSG, might be staying in Brazil instead. Reports out of Italy and Holland say the Brazilian star has agreed to remain with Flamengo after the Rio de Janeiro-based club reached a pact with sports management agency Traffic on debts owed to the forward. “This is a belated Christmas present for the entire county,” Flamengo vice-treasurer Michel Levy said, according to Dutch-based website Sport1. “This is a very happy day. We have worked hard on this deal, and now it's all done.”
ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...
San Jose signed Honduran national team center back Victor Bernardez, 29, who spent the past three years at Belgian power RSC Anderlecht.
Houston acquired midfielder/defender Nathan Sturgis, who began his pro career with the Galaxy, from Toronto FC for a conditional pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Arsenal has offered former Gunners star Thierry Henry a two-month loan deal, but no word if the New York Red Bulls will approve the move.