Lionel Messi, a star at all costs for Paris

Frantically awaited by Parisian supporters, Lionel Messi has agreed to tie his fate to Paris Saint-Germain. The two parties found common ground on Tuesday August 10 around a dizzying two-year contract (plus an optional third year), estimated at 40 million euros per year, with a signing bonus. ‘at least 30 million euros. Stratospheric figures, “Equivalent to the median annual budget of Ligue 1 clubs”, compares the economist Luc Arrondel, researcher at the CNRS.

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The arrival of the six-fold Golden Ball in Paris, however, comes in a context of recession for world football, forcing almost all clubs to reduce their lifestyle and to absorb the debts accumulated because of the Covid epidemic. . At the wrong time, PSG offered themselves a lavish recruitment campaign this summer, welcoming in turn the Spanish defender Sergio Ramos (ex-Real Madrid), the Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (ex-AC Milan), the Moroccan Achraf Hakimi ( ex-Inter Milan) (1) and Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (ex-Liverpool), which increased the payroll of the Ile-de-France club.

Insatiable, Leonardo, the sporting director, does not intend to stop there. Once the recruitment of Messi is acquired, he will put all his strength to renew the contract of Kylian Mbappé, courted by Real Madrid, and welcome by the end of August the very young international Eduardo Camavinga (18 years old, Rennes).

The club is betting on organic growth in turnover

The question of financing these operations inevitably arises. But for the wealthy Qatari owner – Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) -, who paid off the losses linked to the Covid-19 pandemic – 125 million euros for the 2019-20 season alone – the arrival of Lionel Messi was a bargain not to be missed. Especially since, unlike Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, bought for more than 400 million euros in 2017, PSG will not pay any transfer compensation this time, which has, according to Luc Arrondel, “Greatly facilitated this recruitment”.

Paris Saint-Germain took advantage of the temporary relaxation of financial fair play rules established by UEFA, which prohibits European clubs from spending more than they earn, to afford the king of the planet football , without having to get rid of his best players. With Neymar, Angel Di Maria, and Kylian Mbappé, he will compose a fire attack, a magic square unique in the world. “This is the main interest, continues the economist. BecauseParis Saint-Germain are looking at all costs to win the Champions League, which has eluded them since the acquisition of the club by QSI ”.

Beyond the obvious sporting added value of the top scorer in Barça history (672 goals in all competitions), marketing issues counted. By getting their hands on Messi, a global brand followed by 245 million fans on Instagram, PSG is taking care of its imageand is still getting closer to the most influential clubs such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Manchester City.

Economically, leaders also expect short-term payoffs. ” If we compare this arrival to Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus in 2018, we can indeed think so, Luc Arrondel advances. The 117 million euros invested in the Portuguese striker were quickly amortized: on the stock market, the action had then jumped by 40%, the sponsorship contracts with Jeep and Adidas had been renegotiated upwards, the supporters of the club had surged on social networks, ticket sales had increased. And Juve entered the top 5 clubs that sell the most shirts in the world. “

Unexpected added value for Ligue 1

The arrival of the superstar promises to be just as profitable for Ligue 1, put to the test, between the downward renegotiation of TV rights after the disengagement of the audiovisual group Mediapro and the absence of the public in the stadiums, leading to a unprecedented drop in professional club revenues.

→ ANALYSIS. Break between Mediapro and the League, French football forced to reinvent itself

With Messi at the head of the gondola, the National Football League has a golden opportunity to open up to new markets and to reassess its broadcasting rights abroad, which to date earn it 80 million euros per year. . ” Compared to its neighbors, such as England which generates more than 1 billion euros internationally, France is a little behind. This arrival can be interesting for the whole economy of French football ”, concludes Luc Arrondel.


In Europe, a slow-moving transfer market

The Covid-19 has forced European football on a dry run. In the big five leagues, the obligation to sell players before strengthening has been imposed on most clubs. In Ligue 1, except Nice, Monaco, Marseille or Paris, all the teams have reduced the sails.

The financial situation of strongholds of French football such as Saint-Étienne, Lille, Nantes or Bordeaux – which has just been saved by the sulphurous buyer Gérard Lopez – remains worrying. It is only in England, where the market seems to have woken up in recent days, with the arrival of Jack Grealish in Manchester City for 117 million euros – a record across the Channel – and the return to Chelsea of Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku.


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