Messi in Paris, it’s expensive but it will pay off big


After formalizing his departure from Barça in a press conference where his tears flowed, Lionel Messi should become a PSG player in the hours / days to come. A big blow which will force the Parisian club to take out the checkbook. But who will also pay off. And not only to him.

Supporters who watch for the slightest bit of information on social networks. Others who go as far as going to Le Bourget to wait for his plane to land. To say that Lionel Messi’s arrival in Paris excites PSG fans is an understatement. With the Argentinian, the capital club will welcome one of the best players in history and a new icon of world football after the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé in the summer of 2017. He will also have to take out the checkbook.

Even free and therefore without a transfer fee to pay, attracting Messi comes at a cost. Enormous. The press estimates his future Parisian salary at around 40 million euros net per year, more than the French record of the genre held until then by Neymar and his 36 million annual. A massive investment even for the powerful PSG, which must face like everyone else the consequences of the Covid crisis (125 million euros of losses in the 2019-20 season alone), but made possible by the development of financial fair play rules, an economic mechanism that prohibited European clubs from spending more than they earned. And by… the future prospects.

The second highest paid sportsman on the planet in 2020 behind MMA superstar Conor McGregor with 110 million euros, a good part of which via his sponsors like Pepsi or Adidas, Messi costs candy. But it will also pay off big. More? « That’s all the bet that PSG makes, responds Grégoire Kopp, creator of GRK Impact & Com. Lionel Messi directly and indirectly reported 30% of Barça’s income. It’s very consequent. It opens up new markets. » “Messi, that’s for sure, adds Virgile Caillet, general delegate of Union Sport et Cycle, the leading professional organization in the sport and leisure sector. As soon as you recruit him, you have an almost mechanical amount of additional income: products derivatives, ticketing, partners. This is an unmissable opportunity. « 

« 200 to 300,000 additional jerseys »

Argentina’s global aura provides income that can cushion its cost. « We’re going to make the cake bigger, » says Grégoire Kopp in a telling culinary metaphor. Since the arrival of the Qataris in 2011, PSG has always played on this strategy of superstars paid at a premium to make the club shine on and off the field (Ibrahimovic, Beckham, Neymar, Mbappé, etc.). Become one of the fifty most valued professional sports brands in the world according to Forbes, which still places it behind Barça, Real, Bayern, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal football department, the club of the capital will still pass a plateau with « the Pulga », even with a player of thirty-four years.

« It fits perfectly into the strategy of the PSG to develop new marketing approaches », summarizes Christophe Lepetit, head of economic studies of the Center of Law and Economics of Sport (CDES) of Limoges. « A second stage was needed for the PSG rocket and Messi would bring an acceleration, confirms Virgile Caillet. It may be paradoxical given his age but Messi embodies the future of PSG, both economic and sporting. His arrival would combine three iconic brands: Paris, Jordan (club equipment supplier, editor’s note) and Messi.  » According to his estimates, the Argentine can sell « 200 to 300,000 additional jerseys ».

After months of storm between the Covid crisis, closed-door stadiums and downward renegotiated TV rights, the arrival of Messi in Paris would also bring a global (and economic) breath of fresh air to French football and its League. International TV rights, an area where the L1 is lagging behind the biggest European championships with around 80 million euros per year, would thus have an additional weighty argument to be reassessed upwards, which would also benefit the PSG.

« 5 to 10% of tourists who went to Barcelona went for Messi »

« He is the second most followed player on the networks behind Cristiano Ronaldo but ahead of Neymar and Mbappe while he is not even on Twitter, recalls Grégoire Kopp. Messi will open an extremely wide audience for PSG but also for France and L1. It will also help attract new sponsors. We imagine that the current sponsors have to rub their hands because they had not necessarily planned to have Messi. The other big winner , it is Amazon, because they have recovered almost all of the rights to the L1 for 250 million euros and which today finds itself seeing one of the greatest players of all time land. American, it’s a real icing on the cake and they will try to make this championship shine internationally thanks to this arrival. « 

Even… tourism could benefit from it. « He is really a world personality, continues Grégoire Kopp, and his arrival will be a huge factor of attractiveness in football but also outside. It seems that 5 to 10% of tourists who went to Barcelona went there for Messi. . Paris is already a very touristy city and that will only reinforce the phenomenon. We do not have the details of the contract but it is likely that it will be profitable. It is not a crazy bet, it is a star planetary that inspires many people.  » Beyond his salary as a PSG player, the main interested party has also made a choice that will pay him off in the long term.

« We see that he is starting to diversify his image, points out Grégoire Kopp. In 2019 he created his own clothing brand with Tommy Hilfiger’s sister. We come to a point in his career where the player will have to focus on extra income sportsmen because he knows that the years when he will be able to play at a very high level are now numbered to him. Today, 75% of his income still comes from the sportsman and 25 from the extra sportsman. Little by little, he will try to ‘to reverse this curve. And in its logic of finding new sponsors, of an additional aura to be able to have more and more non-sporting income, Paris is a very smart choice because it is a city that has a great impact. bigger than Barcelona.  » The supporters are impatient. Future adversaries too. French football will enter a new dimension in a transfer.

AH with Colin Abgrall and AFP


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