Lionel Messi madness, everywhere. At the Parc des Princes in Paris for the presentation, on August 11, of the new PSG recruit to the supporters of the club in the capital. In Reims, a few days later, for his entry into play – only about twenty minutes – in Ligue 1. In Bruges, on September 15, for his first tenure with his teammates just as stars – Neymar and Kylian Mbappé – in the Ligue des champions. And each time, numb football fans, rave reviews, “Messi (on all tones) thank you “…
For PSG, the blow seems to be perfect, the result of a combination of exceptional circumstances, including an incredible break in the links between the Argentinean and his club at heart, FC Barcelona. Recruiting Messi without transfer fees, even if his salary exceeds 40 million euros annually, was an unthinkable windfall a few months earlier.
→ ANALYSIS. Lionel Messi, a star at all costs for Paris
And it didn’t take long for PSG to start seeing the benefits. The player’s number 30 flocked jerseys are selling like hot cakes, at least three times more than Neymar’s when the Brazilian arrived in 2017. PSG is banking on an increase in sales of 30 to 40% this year. On social networks, the number of “followers” of the club jumped 25 million in one month (it exceeds 140 million now). The PSG brand has become the most followed in the world, even more than the big French luxury brands. In future negotiations, all club partnerships will be revised upwards.
A “tremendous success” for Qatar
“For Qatar, his arrival is also a tremendous success a year and a half before the World Cup organized by the emirate: it is one more jewel in the crown, at the end of an impressive transfer window with others arrivals which ultimately make up undoubtedly the best team in history, and complete the country’s sports diplomacy ”, underlines Jean-Baptiste Guégan, teacher and specialist in the geopolitics of sport.
The problem of the murderous sites of the World Cup, with appalling working conditions for immigrant labor? The very choice of Qatar to organize this World Cup, forcing an upheaval in the calendar in order to postpone the matches in winter (from November 21 to December 18, 2022)? “With Messi, the international image of Qatar is for a time restored and it is an important success for a State which wants to weigh in the Middle East, in particular compared to the United Arab Emirates or to Saudi Arabia which also practice a soft power athletic “, continues Jean-Baptiste Guégan.
Let’s talk about football rather than angry subjects, then. With Messi as the perfect ambassador or at the head of the ideal gondola. Messi the savior, in a way, it is also true for the championship of France. Ligue 1 was sorry after the crisis in television rights and the sad Mediapro episode, crying over its fate of competition at a discount. Messi arrives and “It is extremely positive for all of French football, as well as for its promotion”, enthuses in The Parisian Michel Denisot, former president of PSG from 1991 to 1998. With a wave of the magic wand, there is no question of reviewing the organization of French football a few weeks earlier on the verge of bankruptcy. And too bad if PSG is the tree that hides the rather deforested forest of Ligue 1.
Should we play the killjoy?
Too bad also if the “All Stars” team of PSG is the symbol of ultra-elitist football, where a few big clubs are increasingly widening the gap that separates them from the others. The global trend annoys supporters, who very often grumble against the extremely wealthy teams that distort the popular football of yesteryear. But all applaud Messi in Paris.
“The supporters are often a bit contradictory, recognizes Hervé Mougin, chief supporter of the Blues within the association of the French Irresistibles. They know on the one hand that the perpetual rise in the wage bill in the clubs is a race for the shallot, and that the excessive financialization of football is driving sport into the wall. But how can you not be excited to see the best players evolve together? “
→ READ. The supporters find the stands and impose themselves as guardians of the temple
Indeed. Should we play the killjoy? Perhaps by wondering about such a concentration of talent, which could well end up wringing definitively the neck of the “glorious uncertainty of sport”. PSG, already, prances at the top of Ligue 1. And the bookmakers do not give much of their opponents in the Champions League. That Messi and his “dream team” confirm by reigning over Europe and it will be said that it was written. The very denial of the interest of sport?