Cost-benefit weighs in favor of Messi at PSG

LE BOURGET: Fans try to spot a plane that has just landed as they gather in front of Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, as Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi was due to arrive yesterday. – AFP

PARIS: Barcelona couldn’t afford to keep Lionel Messi but Paris Saint-Germain made their choice for the 34-year-old and while the cost of the deal could be astronomical, it’s still likely to be a bargain. very intelligent if or when it goes. Barça – in debt of 1.2 billion euros ($ 1.4 billion) – finally found themselves in a dead end with their talisman. Keeping it would have kept salaries at an unsustainable level of 110% of income. Even letting him go leaves that figure at 95% with the Catalan club, a prime example of how living beyond his means ultimately ends in the tears Messi shed on Sunday when he confirmed his departure as Barca can no longer defy financial gravity.

An annual salary north of 70 million euros ($ 82 million) net per season, while exceeding the demands of the Spanish league’s salary cap, was a price that made sense for Barcelona. Marc Ciria, managing director of consultancy Diagonal Inversiones, recently calculated that Messi has generated some 235 million euros more than what he has earned in the past four years. Qatar-owned PSG, which bought Messi’s close friend Neymar from Barcelona for € 222m in 2017, can afford the Argentinian wizard, whom they see as the last piece of the puzzle to clinch a first crown in the Champions League.

‘Stratospheric’
Messi, who had agreed to a 50% pay cut with Barcelona and a five-year contract bringing him to 39, would be offered some € 40m a year over two seasons in Paris with the possibility of a third. Neymar, whose transfer will ultimately cost PSG more than 500 million euros including salaries, receives an after-tax salary of 30 million euros per year according to documents published in 2018 by Football Leaks.

Messi, nicknamed “La Pulga” (the chip), brings his overall annual income to around 110 million euros thanks to lucrative sponsorships with Pepsi and Adidas, ahead of longtime La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or Roger Federer. “We’re on another planet here – it’s stratospheric” with Messi, explains Virgile Caillet, sports marketing analyst, adding that a putative arrival at the Parc des Princes would constitute “an event like (only happened) once or twice in football – with (Diego) Maradona when he signed for Napoli or (Zinedine) Zidane goes to Real.

French ‘Galactics’
PSG have essentially taken up the torch from Real Madrid for the “galacticos” – megastars whose world status elevates their clubs to another level. Although the pandemic made a € 125million dent in PSG’s finances in 2019-20 alone, ownership of the club by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) means their pockets are deep enough to close a deal. The recent relaxation of UEFA’s financial fair play rules due to the pandemic is also helping.

“This leaves more room than before,” said Christophe Lepetit, director of the Center for Sports Law and Economics of France in Limoges. Taking Messi on board would mean that PSG “are developing new marketing approaches. This fits perfectly with PSG’s strategy, ”explains Caillet. “Messi is a cast iron guarantee. From the moment you recruit it, you have a number of additional sources of income that flow almost automatically: derivatives, ticketing, partnerships. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Another advantage over the € 400million spent in 2017 to buy Neymar and Kylian Mbappe is the fact that PSG do not have to pay a transfer fee for Messi out of contract. “In terms of amortization (costs), it’s just the salary – I would say that makes it a lot more affordable,” Caillet smiles.

A decade after owning PSG, QSI pushed a policy of capturing big names – even those at the twilight of their careers, notably David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. PSG are the seventh richest club in the world according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League, behind Barça, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

For Caillet, Messi will raise them even higher on and off the pitch. “A second stage was necessary for the PSG rocket. Messi will bring acceleration, ”explains Caillet. “It seems paradoxical given his age – but Messi embodies the future of PSG both economically and sportingly”, explains Caillet because “his arrival brings together three iconic brands – Paris, Jordan (manufacturer of PSG kits) and Messi “. – AFP


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