Thursday, November 17, 2016

Barcelona thank Pique and Shakira for helping to land huge £200m Rakuten sponsorship deal

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Barcelona have thanked Gerard Pique and Shakira for helping to land them their biggest ever sponsor and will now spend the money on keeping Lionel Messi.

The club's vice president Manel Arroyo said: 'Pique and his partner Shakira know Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani and they had dinner in San Francisco in 2015 when some of the foundations were laid.'

Both Pique and Shakira were also present at the celebratory dinner with Mikitani on Wednesday marking the signing of the new four-year deal that will start in 2017 and could make Barcelona as much as €244million (£209m).

The Japanese online shopping giant will give the club a basic €55m (£47m) a season with a €5m (£4.3m) bonus for winning the Champions League and €2m (£1.7m) for winning the league.

Arroyo was asked about Messi and he echoed the comments of Barca president Josep Bartomeu by saying: 'We will do everything we can to keep him. Everything has its time and the time to renew Messi is approaching.'

Messi's father Jorge is due to arrive in Barcelona in December and the first round of talks will take place with Bartomeu, who said on Wednesday: 'We have a team of incredible players and Messi is the leader of that team. We are convinced that Messi will finish his career here.'

With Rakuten bankrolling Messi's new deal, the player is expected to be involved in the event that will mark the beginning of their shirt sponsorship in 2017 and he will also play in the first of two possible friendlies in Japan that have been agreed as part of the deal.

Barcelona's own financial regulations dictate that no more than 70 per cent of the club's revenue can be spent on wages. But the necessity of keeping their three strikers - Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez - and the market value of that trio have sent the ratio up to the 73 per cent mark.

Rakuten's new deal represents a sizeable increase on income from the €33.5m (£28.7m) that current shirt sponsor Qatar have been paying and will pay this season in the final year of their contract.

Messi's new deal needs to maintain his status as the world's top earner and - courtesy of the Japanese sponsor Pique has helped to bring to the club - can now offer him a deal to match anything he will receive elsewhere.

They are convinced that, and his preference for staying at the Nou Camp, will mean he signs.
Reports in Spain, however, claimed this week that Messi is reluctant to sign a new contract with Barcelona as he waits for his tax fraud case to be completed.

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