The website Transfermarkt estimates the value of footballer Messi today at 112 million. However, in all likelihood that will not be enough to convince Barça to let the Argentinean go now.
“But an investment of 250 million is certainly still recoverable”, thinks Van den Wall Bake, specialist in the field of sponsorship. “His qualities are of course beyond dispute. And you buy a lot more than just the best football player in the world. In ideal circumstances, even an amount between 300 and 400 million can still be recouped.”
Messi, the soccer player
In spite of his age Messi is still of absolute world class, stresses soccer statistician Ramon Min. He registers almost every movement of the Argentinian and his site has been renamed official database.
“We have become so accustomed to seasons in which Messi scores thirty or forty times in the Spanish league that we almost don’t realize how exceptional that is. In my opinion, that’s the Messi effect: the exceptional has become ordinary”, Min parries the criticism of the supposedly disappointing year of the Argentine.
“Over the last few years, his return on free kicks has increased enormously: 31 hits in the last five years, more than any other player in the top European leagues. This year in La Liga he gave a record number of 21 assists. This indicates that he is still able to improve himself in many ways and is certainly not over his top yet.”
Messi, the brand
Beyond the field, Messi is also a world star. “Similar to a great film star or pop artist”, says Van den Wall Bake. “And a lot of companies can do with that, of course.”
“Pull the comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo”, says Beerthuizen. The Portuguese exchanged Real Madrid for Juventus two years ago for more than 100 million euros. “From Adidas alone, Juventus received a hefty bonus of 15 million because of the many shirts sold. And of course, his arrival had enormous appeal to other sponsors as well.”
The options for Messi
The three most frequently mentioned clubs angling for the services of Messi are Internazionale, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City. Manchester United and Newcastle United are also owned by owners who should be able to put an astronomical amount on the table.
“The Premier League is falling off”, Van den Wall Bake certainly says. “That’s where the pace is high, it’s physically the toughest. That makes the chance of injuries the greatest, especially considering his age. And that makes the investment more risky again.”
“Everything is insurable”, objects Beerthuizen. “Even if performance fails. But for an older player, the premiums are a lot higher.”
Paris Saint-Germain, where Messi would be reunited with his Brazilian mate Neymar, would be a real option from the above point of view. The Qatari investors of PSG have the financial means, the French league offers relatively less resistance and Messi is practically assured of Champions League football in the years to come.
Financial Fair Play
Then the question arises whether clubs can and should pay a few hundred million euros just like that for a player. UEFA has introduced the Financial Fair Play rules precisely in order to counteract this kind of excessive deal.
But clubs are creative in that area, as Manchester City has recently proven. The English club was initially excluded from European football by UEFA for two years due to illicit financial actions, but the international sports tribunal CAS subsequently found that City had not gone overboard and reversed the suspension.
So even if UEFA Manchester City were to impose a transfer ban, the English probably wouldn’t give in just like that. “Then they often know how to come up with something to act according to the rules on paper”, Beerthuizen knows.
“We all want equality in football, but not everything in the world is fairly distributed. If Tesla is worth ten times as much at the fair as Volkswagen, then no one needs to think so. Then that’s just it.”