Beckham on script as Samba moves to the QPR beat

Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 00:00

SOCCER:David Beckham sat on the top table at Parc des Princes and followed the script perfectly. Aside from the eye-catching and undeniably noble gesture that he is to donate his hefty salary to a local children’s charity, the former England captain spoke of the Qatari-backed “project” which he will now effectively front.

He insisted he would have to work his way into Carlo Ancelotti’s expensively assembled team, massaged the considerable ego of his new club-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and even threw in a desire to score against Marseille – just to sweeten any local doubters. At his side, the club president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, basked in his coup.

“I still felt I had something to achieve in Los Angeles last year,” said the midfielder. “So we “parked” it and I accepted one more year in LA. I won another trophy there and that made it the right time to leave.”

Local charity

There had been 12 offers from around the globe – from South America to Australia, China to Russia – but the sense of ambition, the reality of Champions League football and the unique idea to back a local charity, had apparently swayed him to France.

The last question suggested he would become “the grandpa” of Ligue 1, with only PSG’s fourth-choice goalkeeper, Ronan le Crom, older.

“It feels very good,” offered Beckham through a smile. “To be in Paris, to be at a club like this, to be the elder statesman . . . I’m very proud of all that. No matter what my age is, I still feel 21 years’ old. Most days, at least.”

Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp broke Queens Park Rangers’ transfer record for the second time this month with the €14.6m signing of the central defender Christopher Samba, as he sought to reshape his squad for the relegation battle ahead on a deadline day of frantic activity.

Samba became the 27th purchase of Tony Fernandes’ 17-month tenure at Loftus Road when the chairman met the value of the release clause on his contract at Anzhi Makhachkala in the Russian League. The 28-year-old Congolese joins on a four-and-a-half-year contract.

Samba’s adviser, Walid Bouzid, said that his client’s wage was certainly “Premier League-sized” and did not include a relegation clause.

QPR’s efforts to strengthen further took in drama and controversy, particularly with their attempt to take the striker Peter Odemwingie from West Bromwich Albion. Odemwingie had made no secret of his desire to leave the Hawthorns and link up with Redknapp in London, giving regular bulletins from his Twitter account as QPR had offers for him rejected.

He then turned up at Loftus Road in the evening only for West Brom to issue a statement in which they said there was no agreement in place for him to move or, even, to discuss doing so with QPR. The London club refused him entrance to the stadium, with the implicit suggestion being that Odemwingie had acted alone.

Irish movers

Former Republic of Ireland international Rory Delap’s Stoke City career appeared to end last night when the 36-year-old agreed a loan move to Barnsley until the end of the season when his contract with the Premier League club will be up.

Elsewhere, under-21 international Rob Kiernan extended his loan spell from Wigan to Brentford, also until the summer. The 21-year-old, who can play in defence or midfield is still believed to feature in Roberto Martinez’ long-term plans. Fellow under-21 international defender Cian Bolger joined Leicester from Bolton on a three-a-half-year deal.

Karl Sheppard has returned to Shamrock Rovers on loan from Reading until July. The 21 year-old Dubliner left Tallaght to join Brian McDermott’s side a year ago and has since had a spell on loan to Accrington Stanley.

Meanwhile, Roy O’Donovan joined Northampton Town after being released by Coventry City.

EMMET MALONE

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