• Champions League

Ibra: Beckham vital to PSG growth

ESPN staff
April 10, 2013
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hailed David Beckham © Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes David Beckham is an important part of Paris Saint-Germain's future plans, insisting the midfielder gives the French side confidence heading into Wednesday's Champions League trip to Barcelona.

Beckham, 37, is expected to earn a starting place at the Camp Nou after playing 70 minutes in last week's first leg draw and making a strong impact in Ligue 1 over the last two months.

PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti recently admitted he was angered by claims that Beckham joined the club to expand their image and Ibrahimovic claims the former England international's influence on the pitch has had a positive change in Paris.

"I think he has been very important for us," Ibrahimovic said. "Because in the situation that we are in now, the club has been changing from a normal club to a top club, and Beckham gives you some kind of confidence.

"He has the responsibility, on the pitch and off the pitch, to lead the way for these two months which is very important. He has a quality, a big quality; he has a touch that I haven't seen many players have. And he is very elegant when he plays."

PSG will need to become one of the few sides to defeat Barcelona at the Camp Nou this season, with the Spanish side's two away goals giving them a strong advantage.

Ibrahimovic will be key to that success, with his 26 league goals putting PSG on track for their third Ligue 1 title.

The Sweden international admits Beckham's arrival has helped him step out of the spotlight and focus on football.

"I think it's good for me that Beckham came so he gets more attention than me, so they leave me a little bit alone," he said. "When I came here everybody said 'don't worry, as a football player you can walk in the city and nobody will disturb you. Because as a football player here it is not like it is in Italy'.

"But since the day I came here it's been totally stressful. Everybody is chasing me with their scooters; I don't even walk in the streets.

"When David came he got more of the media attraction, so that's good because he takes care of that and I can play football, focus on football."

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