It takes very little for Lionel Messi to become the next billionaire footballer. If the Barcelona star takes the field at Camp Nou in September, he will automatically end the 2020-2021 season with more than $ 1 billion in career earnings, a milestone that only three athletes have achieved before him.
But we must wait. At the end of a year of back and forth with the management, in fact, the Argentine icon would be considering leaving the club after 16 years, giving up the last year of a contract that could turn him into the highest paid player in the one who has become the most profitable sport in the world.
“Globalization has transformed football, which has always been the most popular sport in the world, even into the most profitable of all,” says Stefan Szymanski, author of Soccernomics and a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. “In football there is virtually total free competition on a global scale, there is no draft to choose the players, there is no salary cap and usually the best bidders win the strongest players.”
A type of free market that belongs to freelancers. Tiger Woods was the first athlete to reach $ 1 billion in career earnings: it happened in 2009 thanks to a total prize pool of 10.5 million and more than 100 million in revenues mainly due to the sponsorship agreement with Nike.
Read also: Why it is right that Cristiano Ronaldo earns much more than a worker
Floyd Mayweather reached the same milestone in 2017, betting everything on the sacking of legendary promoter Bob Arum, who has been pushed out of his corner, and thanks to a series of self-promoted and broadcast matches in pay-per-view that have earned more than 25 million dollars 12 times. , including the $ 275 million one against Conor McGregor.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi’s lifelong rival, became the first athlete in a team sport to earn a billion dollars thanks to the $ 105 million in the 2019-2020 season.
Michael Jordan, who grossed $ 550 million in career during his 15 years as a Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards jerseys, remains the only billionaire athlete in the world, whose fortune is mainly due to investment in timing. perfect in the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating Juventus’ victory against Atletico Madrid at the Allianz Stadium, March 12, 2019. (Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images)
Messi’s entry into the billionaire club represents the final chapter of the most expensive show in modern football since, starting in 2009, he and Ronaldo began competing in rival teams in La Liga, the Spanish league. The chestnut, often shirtless, Ronaldo has perfectly embodied the role of leading actor in this sport, the shy Messi, on the other hand, is considered the more modest of the two, the shoulder, more interested in ball control than in the footwear he wears, prolific goalscorer as well as exemplary team man.
Ronaldo, who is two years older than Messi, has become the most popular celebrity in the world with 443 million followers on social media through various platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but also the most profitable marketing man in the world. According to Hookit, who calculates the value of social media sponsorships, from January to July 2020, Ronaldo generated a value of $ 28 million for the brands he promoted with a total of 275 posts and 873 engagements. It has a lifetime agreement with Nike, a long-term partnership with Herbalife, and a clothing line that started with the CR7 men’s underwear collection in 2013 and which today includes shoes, perfumes, jeans, hotels, gyms and latest arrivals this month, sunglasses. Last year Ronaldo earned $ 45 million for his performances on the pitch and another 105 million from outside the pitch.
Not even Messi disdains sponsorships, having earned 33 million in a year thanks to the lifetime agreement with Adidas and those with Lays, Mastercard, the watch manufacturer Jacob & Co, the Qatari telecom Ooredoo and the new line of clothing for every day launched last year with Ginny Hilfiger, Tommy’s sister, on The Messi Store website. Also according to Hookit, from January to July of this year Messi collected 117 posts on social media that collected 235 million likes, comments or shares, generating a value of $ 22 million for the brands he promoted.
Barcelona could pay up to $ 92 million for their star next season, a third of which in prizes based on their achievements.