Few transfers in history have ever generated as much chatter, news articles or social media posts as Neymar’s world-record £200m move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Such an unprecedentedly large fee and the headlines it captures raises questions of whether Paris Saint-Germain have bought Neymar for his brand as much as his ability.
The Qatari-owned club has spent recent years watching the biggest and best players largely avoid the Parc des Princes in favour of Old Trafford, the Camp Nou, the Bernabeu or the Etihad Stadium.
Neymar’s arrival puts the limelight firmly back on them and their project.
Of course, the signing of a genuine superstar on the Brazilian’s level will generate huge shirt sales — as evidenced by the queues of fans outside PSG’s official club shop throughout the day on Friday.
Yet that’s not where the real value lies for the Parisiens. After all, a football club’s kit manufacturer will traditionally be owed large revenue percentage on the shirt sales — the industry average is around 80 per cent — allowing them to secure ROI on their sponsorship. It’s the merchandising and licensing rights owned by the club that are most valuable to them — Manchester United signing a £75m deal with Adidas prompted rival clubs such as Chelsea to negotiate better deals for themselves. The Blues will run out in a Nike kit for the first time this season, having signed a £60m-a-year deal.
No, the real commercial value for PSG from signing Neymar is the elevated status the deal gives them in world football.
Commercial brands will now have look at Paris Saint-Germain as they would any other major European club, whereas in the past the French league’s inferior TV viewing figures meant it could be looked over in favour of the Premier League, La Liga and even the Bundesliga.
Will Neymar’s presence over five years contribute pay back his transfer in commercial revenue? Yes.
Neymar himself has already attracted over 20 global brand partners. Depending on the image rights deal he agrees with his new club, they are likely to acquire set percentage of his rights over set territories. Brands across Europe, South and North America and the Far East will now be watching PSG and their marketing reach to assess how much a sponsorship deal may be worth, providing them with in-direct association with Neymar via his employers.
They’re probably going to be attracted to what they see.
Just take a look at the bump in PSG’s social media followers between the end of last season to the day before Neymar signed.
|Platform||End of last season followers||Followers on day before Neymar signed|
An increase of 5.3m social media followers in the space of a few months. And not a single ball has been kicked in competition.
PSG will be propelled into the top five most followed clubs on social media, a position that will generate increased commercial revenue.
It undoubtedly helps that Neymar is a Nike athlete. PSG have been rumoured to be in difficult negotiations with Nike in order to renew their deal. PSG are said to be demanding €40m per season, doubling the value of their current deal worth €20 million per season. For Nike, having the Neymar brand consistently associated with their own across international football with Brazil and his personal endorsements is key.
Those negotiations are about to get easier. If anything, PSG could be tempted to increase their demands.
First and foremost PSG have bought Neymar for his footballing ability, but it’s that ability, his distinctive set of skills and world class talent that increases the pull of his brand and its commercial value.