PARIS (Reuters) – Paris St Germain lashed out at David Beckham’s critics after he cleared all doubts about his conditioning and performance level with an excellent showing for his first start with his new side on Wednesday.
The former England captain, who made a cameo debut of 15 minutes for PSG in Sunday’s home league victory over Olympique Marseille, featured for 86 minutes in the French Cup last 16 victory over the same opponent.
Sports director Leonardo took the opportunity to hit out at all those who have questioned the real motives of Beckham’s signing on a five-month deal and suggested it was only a marketing coup.
"You said it – we signed him only to take pictures, to set news conference and sell shirts," he said. "It’s up to you to judge. You, the experts, who know soccer."
Beckham looked rejuvenated to his coach Carlo Ancelotti, who praised his new player’s excellent performance with a softer tone than Leonardo.
"He made a very good game. He showed that he can play. I think that he did not look like he was 37 tonight," the Italian told the post-match news conference with a rare smile.
Ancelotti commented more on the game during which Beckham completed the more passes throughout the game, created a couple of chances from his neat set-pieces and also took his part in the defensive work in a deep midfield position.
"He made good passes as usual, he was well positioned on the pitch alongside Blaise Matuidi. He was very solid," he said.
"He can bring a lot of things, his passing skills, his experience, his (aggressiveness)."
The Englishman himself, who had not played for three months before making his appearance three days ago, said he had "enjoyed" his first start.
"It’s always nice to start. I really enjoy playing in this team, with special players like these ones," he said.
"If I am tired ? Not really. I feel good though I certainly am not ready to play 90 minutes."
(Reporting by Olivier Guillemain; Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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