Lionel Messi's eye-watering contract at Barcelona has generated a lot of debate in the last few days, but there are some who point to the fact that the Argentine actually brings in more to the club than he earns.
Marc Menchen, the director and creator of 2Playbook, and Ivan Cabeza, an economist and the founding partner of Laudem Partners, have spoken to MARCA about the financial impact of having Messi at Barcelona.
For Menchen, the Blaugrana were making a profit prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for Cabeza, he puts the money that Messi brings into the club between 130 and 200 million euros.
The economist is very clear that Messi's impact must be assessed from three points of view: economic, sporting and emotional.
"There are things that we cannot quantify exactly but that show us the importance of Messi," Cabeza explains.
"For example, 36 percent of the trophies won by Barcelona have been won with him. Most commercial or sponsorship contracts have a clause that is determined according to this player. And, on an emotional level, the Barcelona-Messi brand is known all over the world; there are tourists who come to the city to see the player, followers on social media..."
As such, given these parameters, Cabeza is confident that Messi generates more than what he earns, even stating the rough figures.
"Annually he must generate between 130 million [euros], minimum, and 200 million, maximum," the economist states.
"Therefore, if you take the proportional part of his salary, bonuses and everything for a season, it doesn't exceed the amount he receives."
Tangible and intangible
Messi generates money for the club that is direct, but there are also others that are indirect and more difficult to quantify, although they end up having an impact on Barcelona's finances.
As for the tangible aspects, the club will not receive the same amount if Messi goes and plays in a friendly or if he does not travel, for instance. In many cases, if the Argentine is unable to attend, the contract has a penalty clause. Something similar happens with sponsorship events, as they are largely paying for Messi's presence.
Another aspect where Messi generates a lot of income for Barcelona is through shirt sales. In fact, it is estimated that eight out of every nine shirts sold in the club shop have Messi's name on the back. This brings in around 20 million euros per year.
Then there is money made through ticket sales. Between five and 10 percent of tourists who come to Barcelona are mainly interested in going to watch Barcelona play at the Camp Nou, and Messi is largely responsible for this.
On social media, too, simply having Messi is a guarantee in terms of content, as Menchen points out.
"The videos of Messi celebrating a goal or anything else ensure great media visibility, whether he plays well or not. It is a difference, for example, with Real Madrid," he says.
Menchen also claims that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona's accounts were functioning well, despite the debt in the background.
"He compensated what was paid with what the club generated," he adds.
"But I change the focus and ask: is Messi more profitable in terms of the cost, in media and economic terms, or if you take, for example, [Ousmane] Dembele, [Philippe] Coutinho and [Antoine] Griezmann?"
Impact on sponsorship
Whether Messi is at Barcelona or not has a knock-on effect when it comes to brands. Rakuten, for example, renewed for one more season with Barcelona but with a substantial reduction in the emoluments and, as Menchen explains, Beko will do the same in the next few days but at fifty percent.
On the other hand, Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font argues that Messi has not ruined Barcelona financially.
"The problem has been the mistakes in economic management made in recent years, the millions spent on signings and some renewals," he said.
Source: Marca / Cristina Navarro