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Icon's costly departure

Barcelona facing €137m brand hit as Messi exits

Valuable asset: Lionel Messi (pic: SNS Group).

Lionel Messi was not alone in shedding a tear over the Argentine superstar’s departure from his beloved Barcelona. Analysts say the Spanish club will see €137 million wiped off its brand value.

According to consultancy Brand Finance, the Catalan outfit is currently the world’s second most valuable football club brand with a value sitting at €1.266 billion.

However, the decision not to re-sign their biggest star could have a serious impact with estimates suggesting 11% of the value could disappear.

The 34-year-old’s departure is expected to have direct adverse effects on the club’s future sponsorship income, merchandise sales, and match day revenue.

It could also indirectly contribute to a decline in Barcelona’s brand strength which may weaken with diminished fan perceptions and the club’s global following at risk of shrinking.

Hugo Hensley, head of sports services at London-based Brand Finance, said: “Messi is synonymous with the Barcelona brand and has been the club’s talisman since bursting onto the scene 15 years ago.

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“His presence at the club has no doubt allowed it to attract additional fans, better players, managers, commercial deals, and win silverware. His departure can cost the club as much and result in a painful brand value decrease.”

Messi made his first-team debut at the age of 16 and according to Brand Finance, the key areas where he generates value for Barcelona are:

Commercial revenue: His global following makes him a highly attractive athlete for corporate sponsors and his presence at the club has undoubtedly allowed Barcelona to bring in more lucrative sponsorship deals. Messi has over 240m followers on Instagram, more than double than that of the Barcelona official account (99.5m). Brand value at risk linked to commercial revenue is estimated at around €77m.

On-pitch performance & matchday: He has had a colossal impact on their performance over the years and has brought a significant amount of following to the club. Messi has scored more than 30 goals a season since 2008/2009, leading the club to a plethora of honours along the way. Messi’s absence from the pitch could cost up to €17m in brand value.

Shirt sales and merchandising: Messi’s shirt sales reportedly generated over €200m, of which the club collects a portion of around 10-15% (€30m), and kit manufacturer Nike enjoy the lion’s share. This may also mean Nike will lose out on revenue following his departure should Barcelona general merchandising sales decrease as a result. With the famous ‘Messi No. 10’ off the shelves, Barcelona could lose out on €43m in brand value.

Arch rivals Real Madrid, which boasts a brand value of €10m more – €1,276m – currently tops the brand value league. Manchester United’s 2021 brand value of €1,130m sees them sit in third place.

Barcelona said Messi is leaving because they could not afford to give him a new contract under La Liga’s salary limit, with the player reportedly in talks with Paris St-Germain over a deal.

The French giants are one of the few clubs in the world who could afford Messi.

Manchester City, managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are another, although the Premier League champions have just splashed out a British record transfer fee of £100m to bring English international Jack Grealish to the Etihad from Aston Villa on a six-year deal, reportedly worth £200,000 a week to the 25-year-old.

See also:

Real Madrid challenge La Liga over €2.7bn ‘opportunist’ deal



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