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By the time the final day of the January transfer window had arrived, lovers of French football were understandably quite concerned.
January had been a damaging month for French football. It had seen several of Ligue 1’s most talented up-and-comers leave for pastures new abroad. And it had all happened so quickly.
In just a few short weeks Le Championnat had been plundered by clubs in traditionally stronger leagues, with several of the division’s top performers poached. The most prolific offenders were Premier League side Newcastle United, who signed no fewer than five Ligue 1 players during the 31 days the transfer window was open – most notably Montpellier title-winner Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
While many of these transfers represented good business for both the buying and selling clubs, for fans of the game in France, it was undoubtedly disappointing to see so many talented players leave simultaneously. It was therefore natural that when deadline day arrived, there was a fear even more stars would leave. But Ligue 1 followers were in for a surprise. The league was not only about to acquire a talented player – but a footballing superstar.
On the morning of January 31, Paris Saint-Germain announced they would be holding a press conference later that day. Rumours circulated that one of the most recognisable faces in football was joining the club. A few hours later, it was confirmed. David Beckham was signing for les Parisiens on a five-month deal. It was huge news for PSG, perhaps more on a commercial level than from a footballing perspective.
Beckham arrived in Paris to much fanfare