PARIS — Judging by the French media, David Beckham's arrival in Paris is only a matter of when, not if.
While there has been no official confirmation that Beckham has reached a deal with Paris Saint-Germain for what could be the last leg of his career, the headlines on the front and back pages of Wednesday's newspapers in France made it sound like a sure thing: "Le Voila!" (He's Here!) exclaimed L'Equipe, while Le Parisien stated "Il a dit Oui!" (He said Yes!).
Both Beckham and PSG did their best to cool down the speculation.
"No agreement has been reached with any club yet — talks of a deal are premature," Beckham's management company, XIX Entertainment, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "David has yet to make a final decision on his future."
Reached by telephone, PSG's director of communications, Bruno Skropeta, would only say "we don't comment on rumors" when asked if reports of Beckham's imminent arrival were true.
That hasn't stopped speculation about the former England captain's grandiose arrival in the French capital next month from picking up speed, with rumors that City Hall might even open its doors to welcome soccer's aging superstar.
And there is a certain logic to Beckham picking the French capital for his next stint.
With Beckham having gone from Madrid to Hollywood — with brief stints in Milan — Paris seems the perfect place for an icon of both soccer and fashion to end his career.
"It's not surprising," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said, welcoming the idea of Beckham's possible arrival. "He's still a great professional, even though he's not so young anymore."
Le Parisien claims that the 36-year-old Beckham would earn $1.05 million per month over 18 months at PSG, whose wealthy Qatari owners have already spent $107 million on players this season.
Talk of Beckham's contract even reached parliament, with Eva Joly, a French presidential candidate from the environmentalist party, calling such a lucrative deal "shocking."
Beckham could accept an offer to stay with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where his five-year deal ended after winning his first MLS Cup last month, while several English clubs have also expressed interest.
But PSG is doing its best to woo the star and his wife, Victoria.
According to French sports daily L'Equipe, PSG plans to give Beckham the regal treatment normally reserved for a foreign politician, with a news conference planned at Paris' City Hall followed by a trip to the Champs-Elysees, where PSG's main store is conveniently located.
That news came as a surprise to Jean Vuillermoz — a City Hall employee who looks after sporting matters.
"For the moment there is no celebration planned for David Beckham," Vuillermoz told RMC radio on Wednesday. "City Hall has not received any request. I even saw (PSG director) Jean-Claude Blanc (Tuesday) and we didn't talk about that at all."
Such festivities would not likely happen before the second week of January. PSG's squad is flying out to Qatar on New Year's Day for a mini-break, including an exhibition against AC Milan — where Beckham spent two stints on loan while with the Galaxy — on Jan. 4.
With Beckham's huge endorsement deals already in place, Paris would suit him as he expands his image as one of sport's leading fashion icons.
But whether Beckham could still be a force on the soccer field remains an open question. If not always spectacular, the French league is one of the most athletic in Europe. Even Claude Makelele, one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation, struggled with the pace at times when he joined PSG as a 35-year-old in 2008.
Beckham could, though, fit in on the right side of the midfield, where he could use his famous right foot to wreak havoc on French defenses.
Former Liverpool and PSG coach Gerard Houllier thinks Beckham is still "a decisive player."
"He can make the difference in a big game with a pass, a cross, or a free kick," Houllier told L'Equipe on Wednesday. "I don't know exactly what shape Beckham's in, but if defenders don't mark him closely enough, he can put the ball on a teammate's head with uncanny precision."