Global icon David Beckham moves to Paris Saint-Germain

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(Updated: 1:02 p.m. ET)

David Beckham, global soccer’s most iconic star of the last 20 years, will now wear the jersey of Paris Saint-Germain.

Beckham, 37, and the well-financed Parisian club held an introductory news conference late Thursday afternoon in France to formally announce the former England captain’s arrival at Parc des Princes. There, Beckham will seek to win a major title in a fourth different country.

The former LA Galaxy midfielder certainly has a chance at PSG to add another trophy or two to his personal collection; the club is neck-and-neck with Lyon for top spot in Ligue 1, France’s top division.

More importantly, this gets Beckham back onto the brightly lit UEFA Champions League stage. PSG is two weeks away from facing Spain’s Valencia in the first of a Champions League Round of 16 home-and-away clash.

Beckham has been looking for a new home since late November when, when he announced that his six-year relationship with Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy would terminate. Speculation in subsequent weeks had his final playing stop happening everywhere from Australia to China to clubs around the London neighborhood where Beckham grew up.

At Thursday’s introductory news conference, where Beckham revealed that his French language skills are fairly limited, the former Manchester United star said he would donate his salary to salary to a local Paris children’s charity.

“I chose Paris because I can see what the club are trying to do,” Beckham said. “I can see who the club are trying to bring in. It’s an exciting city and now there’s a club that’s going to have a lot of success over the next 10, 20, 30 years. I’m very honored I’ve been picked to be part of the future of PSG.”

(MORE: Where Beckham may line up for Paris Saint-Germain)

On the one hand, PSG always seemed in play as a potential destination; the once-famous club, recently reinforced through the heavy financing of new Qatari ownership, had offered Beckham a fat contract one year ago. Beckham seriously mulled the deal then but ultimately chose a return to the LA Galaxy for one more MLS campaign. The Galaxy won its second consecutive MLS Cup title on Dec. 1. 

But right before MLS Cup late last Novemeber, PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti had pooh-poohed any guesswork that Beckham would land at Parc des Princes.

“We did not offer, good luck to him,” Ancelotti said flatly at the time, seeming to kick a bunch of dirt on this thing and bury it once and for all.

source: Getty Images

Beckham will certainly have a bunch of pricey talent around him at Parcs des Princes in southwest Paris. (The club may represent one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but the ground itself, ironically, is in a fairly pedestrian, bordering on “gritty,” area of Paris.)

PSG’s current roster includes one-of-a-kind striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Argentina’s Javier Pastore, Brazil’s Thiago Silva and several other well-known international names. So, unlike in Los Angeles, Beckham won’t be the star of the show. (Especially not with Ibrahimovic around, as this piece from England’s respected Guardian details.)

All totaled, PSG has spent more than $300 million over the last 18 months to fortify the club’s roster and make it a player again in French and European competition.

Beckham, who says he will continue to be an ambassador for American soccer, declined to say whether this would be the last playing stop on a professional career that began  20 years ago.

“People always speculate that it’ll be my last [playing contract] but they’ve done that for a number of years and I continue to play and sign new contracts,” he said.

Watch Live: Arsenal-West Ham, Stoke-Burnley

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The Premier League has a pair of 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday kickoffs for us this morning, including one of Arsene Wenger‘s final matches at Arsenal.

There’s a London Derby between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners look to stay fresh for Atletico Madrid and the Hammers aim to firm up their Premier League status for next season (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette. Subs: Macey, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Nelson. Aubameyang.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Masuaku, Kouyate, Noble, Fernandes, Mario, Arnautovic. Subs: Adrian, Cullen, Evra, Lanzini, Hugill, Carroll, Chicharito.


Stoke City’s climb out of the relegation zone will have to overcome Burnley’s desires for a Top Six place, as the Clarets can pass sixth place Arsenal with a win and a Gunners loss to West Ham (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

LINEUPS

Stoke City: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, M.Indi, Pieters; Bauer, Allen, Badou, Shaqiri; Crouch, Diouf. Subs: Haugaard, Zouma, Ireland, Cameron, Fletcher, Ramadan, Campbell.

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Lennon, Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson, Wood, Barnes. Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Marney, Vokes, Hendrick, Walters, Bardsley.

Ligue 1: Depay’s goal streak hits 5 games; Lyon reeling in Monaco

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MONACO (AP) Lyon won at Dijon 5-2 and moved within one point of second-place Monaco in the French league on Friday.

Lyon’s sixth straight league win kept them level on points with fourth-place Marseille.

The team finishing second qualifies automatically for next season’s Champions League, while the team in third goes into the playoffs. After this weekend, there will be four rounds remaining.

Memphis Depay has scored or created 12 of Lyon’s 16 last goals.

The Netherlands forward opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a close-range volley, and set up the fourth goal for winger Bertrand Traore in the 77th.

Depay almost scored another, just failing to reach right back Rafael‘s cross in the 50th. Midfielder Houssem Aouar followed up and his strike was turned into his own net by defender Valentin Rosier.

Lyon’s other goals came from forwards Nabil Fekir in the 53rd and Maxwell Cornet in the 82nd.


MONACO (AP) — After losing the French title last weekend, Monaco is in danger of throwing away second place after losing at Guingamp 3-1 on Saturday.

The defeat leaves Monaco just one point ahead of Lyon and Marseille as the three sides chase an automatic place in the Champions League with four games left.

Monaco was thrashed by champion Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 last Sunday and the defense leaked easily again, albeit with a little help from one of its defenders.

A makeshift Monaco fell behind midway through the first half after Brazilian defender Jemerson was given a red card for stopping a shot on the line. He was sent off and veteran forward Jimmy Briand netted from the penalty spot for mid-table Guingamp.

Monaco capitulated and trailed 3-0 after 47 minutes. Defender Almamy Toure replied in vain with a consolation goal midway through the second half.


Marseille crushed Lille 5-1 to join Lyon on 69 points. Lyon, which won at Dijon 5-2 on Friday for a sixth straight win, has a better goal difference.

Marseille also has the Europa League and plays the first leg of its semifinal at home to Austrian side Salzburg next Thursday. But Lyon has only Ligue 1 to think about.

Still, Marseille is also brimming with confidence these days, especially winger Florian Thauvin.

He scored twice against Lille to extend his career-best league tally to 19. Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou also netted twice, and forward Lucas Ocampos completed the rout against 19th-place Lille.

In other matches: Amiens won against Strasbourg 3-1; struggling Toulouse beat Angers 2-0, and last-place Metz drew at home to Caen 1-1.

PSG is at Bordeaux on Sunday. Also, Nice is at home to Montpellier, and Saint-Etienne takes on Troyes.

UEFA says Europa League trophy not damaged after being stolen

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA says the Europa League trophy was not damaged after being stolen in Mexico.

The silverware was at a promotional event in the central city of Leon when it was reported by authorities to have been taken from a vehicle.

The theft came ahead of the semifinals of Europe’s second-tier club competition.

UEFA says the “Europa League trophy was in Mexico for a partner event and got briefly stolen. It was quickly recovered and has suffered no damages.”

In the semifinal first legs next week, Arsenal plays Atletico Madrid and Marseille takes on Salzburg.

Serie A: Roma prep for Liverpool by beating SPAL; Benevento win at Milan

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Premier League preview ]

SPAL 2013 0-3 Roma

A few hours after a reserves-heavy Liverpool side played last-place West Bromwich Albion to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League, Roma, the Reds’ UEFA Champions League semifinal foes beginning Tuesday, hammered 17th-place SPAL on the back of goals scored by Radja Nainggolan and Patrik Schick.

Roma shocked the world — and Barcelona — to reach the semifinals, but still have a battle on their hands to finish inside Serie A’s top-four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. Following Saturday’s victory, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side is three and four points clear of fourth- and fifth-place Lazio and Inter Milan, respectively, though both of the chasing sides play on Sunday.

AC Milan 0-1 Benevento

The 2017-18 season has treated AC Milan, who spent massively last summer, far worse than Roma. Following Sunday’s home defeat to first-year top-flight (and last-place) side Benevento, Gennaro Gattuso’s side sits sixth (final automatic Europa League place) and lead seventh-place Atalanta, who play on Sunday, by just two points.

Pietro Iemmello scored the game’s only goal in the 29th minute.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1-0 Fiorentina

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Cagliari vs. Bologna — 6:30 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Sampdoria — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Inter Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Crotone — 9 a.m. ET
Juventus vs. Napoli — 2:45 p.m. ET