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The last few days have been an authentic roller coaster of emotions for Leo Messi. From having to suddenly bid a reluctant goodbye to the Barça club, and holding a press conference at which his tears flowed liberally, to finding himself as the focus of mass idolatry in his new city.

Messimania in Paris

In Paris, the euphoria was unleashed the moment he said goodbye to Barça. When he had still not been officially signed as a Paris Saint-Germain footballer, the Paris-Le Bourget airport was already filling with French fans waiting for their new star. And finally, yesterday, he took that plane and on arrival, received his first immersion among the Parisian masses. Messi even looked surprised at the buzz he had generated as he waved to the crowds from a window.

But if Tuesday was a day of strong emotions, this Wednesday, it got even more intense with his official presentation as a PSG player. Inside the Parc dels Príncipes he held a press conference, while outside the Parisian fans were waiting with shouts of "Messi, Messi", flares and smoke. They were mad for Messi.

So there is a new idol in Paris. Far beyond the clubs' previous glamour signings,  Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappé, the centre of all attention now is Leo Messi. And the first chaotic manifestation of the fervour was in the PSG merchandise stores. Over the last few hours, the cash registers have not ceased to ring up sales of Messi shirts with the number 30 on the back.

Images of long queues, anxious fans and people all over the City of Lights wearing the shirt of their new hero. The snapshots at the PSG stores tell their own story.

Messi camiseta PSG EFE

Messi camiseta PSG EFE


Messi camiseta PSG EFE

PSG fans buying Leo Messi shirts / EFE

Trauma in Barcelona

But if Messi is suddenly a la mode in Paris - and his shirt an absolute bestseller - it is a very different story 800 kilometres to the south in Barcelona. Over the summer, the number 10 Barça shirt bearing Messi's name traded well, as it always has done, but now the supply-demand ratio has suddenly changed. And in the coming months sales of Barça shirts can be expected to plummet.

According to several studies, up till now the sale of "Messi 10" Barça shirts accounted for 80% of the total. Annual sales revenue for Messi shirts alone has until now amounted to 20-30 million euros. Now, however, without the Argentinian, it will be even more difficult for the Catalan club to get out of the serious economic crisis in which it is immersed.

It is hoped that Dutch forward Memphis Depay, the latest signing just as Messi departs, could be Barça's big new drawcard in terms of merchandising. Financial advisor Marc Ciria has told EFE that Depay "could sell 5 out of every 10 T-shirts and thus prevent the overall fall in sales from being more than 30% in the short term".

Camiseta MESSI FCB - Montse Giralt

A Barça fan looking at a Leo Messi shirt / EFE

Barça's economic fortunes will, in this respect at least, plunge even further without the Messi brand. It is estimated that the Barça club could face a total fall in income of up to 137 million a year simply due to the departure of its most important footballer.


Main image: PSG fans celebrating the signing of Leo Messi / EFE