Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona and the clusterfuck that is the Catalan’s financial situation has dominated football headlines for the past few weeks. Now, Brand Finance has estimated how much the Argentine’s departure will affect Barcelona’s overall value as a brand.

According to the brand valuation and strategy consultancy, Messi's departure could cost some €137m (approximately $160m) in brand value. Barcelona is currently the second most valuable football club in the world, valued at €1,266m ($1,486m), within touching distance of arch-rivals Real Madrid (€1,276m / $1,497m).

However, should Messi’s departure play out as estimated by Brand Finance, Barcelona could look at an 11 percent loss in their brand value, which is the amount the consultancy believes Messi alone contributes to Barcelona.

Brand Finance broke down Messi’s contribution to the brand value into three categories: commercial revenue; on-pitch performance and match day revenue; shirt sales and merchandising revenue. Hugo Hensley, Brand Finance’s head of sports services said, “Messi’s presence at the club has no doubt allowed it to attract additional fans, better players, managers, commercial deals, and win silverware. His departure can cost the club as much and result in a painful brand value decrease.”

The reaction to the news in the media and on social platforms alone shows just how big of an earthquake Messi's departure has caused. While a rift between Messi and the Barcelona board was also the subject of speculation last summer, the manner in which he is reported to be leaving the club this summer has amplified those shockwaves.

According to reports, Barcelona is being blocked from signing Messi to a new deal as the club’s finances are out of control and in violation of La Liga’s salary cap. It's reported that even if Messi were to play for Barcelona for free, the club would be over the cap and unable to register him in its squad.

It’s not only Barcelona who will suffer the consequences of Messi leaving. The entire league benefits from his presence and the fact that people pay to watch the player who is widely regarded as the greatest ever. Foreign fans, for example, may be less inclined to watch the famous El Clásico derby between Real Madrid and Barça if neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor the Argentine are involved.

When Ronaldo left Real Madrid in 2018, Brand Finance estimates that the club’s brand value decreased by 19 percent. Ronaldo is more marketable than Messi and has a bigger personal brand. Yet the fact that CR7’s departure had such a big impact goes to show that Messi’s departure will likely result in a big dip in valuation for Barcelona as well.

Only time will tell exactly how much value will be lost, but it's certain that whichever club is set to sign Messi (and it’s looking likely that it’s PSG) will benefit from an uptick in value and commercial revenue.

To read Brand Finance’s full report, head here.

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