According to the German sports marketing research company Repucom, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most marketable footballer worldwide. Based on a representative study in 13 countries, the Real Madrid striker has a global awareness of 83.9%.
The Portuguese winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014 has a combined fan base of 108 million people across the social networks (82 millions Facebook likes and 26 million followers on Twitter) and is described as the most trend-setting footballer of today’s football business. Repucom’s CEO Paul Smith stated the following:
“Ronaldo is an endorser’s dream. His value is as important to the teams he plays for as they are for the companies that endorse him.”
Lionel Messi ranks second, with a surprise entry from his fellow Barcelona star, Gerard Piqué, completing the top three of the most marketable footballers. Despite an injury ravaged season for him and a disappointing trophyless season for his club, Messi scored highly on his endorsement potential and likeability. With regard to Piqué, his relationship with international music star Shakira helped to lift the defender’s level of global public awareness. Over 58% of people know of Piqué globally and of them, over three in four people say they like him.
The table below depicts the result of the Repucom’s study in greater detail:
Of the 10 most marketable footballers in the world, Nike has signed six (Ronaldo, Piqué, Rooney, Iniesta, Neymar, and Ibrahimovic) to just three for Adidas (Messi, Torres and Casillas) and one for the smaller German brand Puma (Thierry Henry).
In accordance with the table above, Ronaldo and Messi are also the players with the highest income worldwide in 2013. According to Forbes the Real Madrid winger made in 2013 $73 million and the Argentinian striker $65 million from salary, bonus and endorsements. A little surprising is however that Zlatan Ibrahimovic, ranked 9th amongst the most marketable footballers, follows Ronaldo and Messi in the list of the world’s highest-paid soccer players with an income of $34 million.