How does Grealish's new boot deal compare to other world stars?
11th March 2023

Football’s biggest money boot deals: How the mega-rich superstars are raking it in more than ever after Jack Grealish’s £10m-a-year contract – and why the biggest earner ISN’T Lionel Messi OR Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Grealish has agreed the most lucrative boot contract ever for a British player
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have lifetime deals with Nike and adidas
  • But they’re both trumped by Brazilian star Neymar and his Puma contract 

Jack Grealish hit the headlines last week after he signed the most lucrative boot contract ever handed to a British footballer.

The England and Manchester City winger left American sports giant Nike, whose boots he’d worn since a teenager, to pen a £10million-a-season, five-year deal with Puma.

The German company has already supplied City’s kit for four years and their manager Pep Guardiola is an ambassador.

‘We want to make Jack one of the most important brand faces in football and culture,’ said Puma’s Head of Sports Marketing Johan Adamsson.

‘His position opens up opportunities to work with many of our fashion initiatives and to collaborate with him on his many personal causes.’

Jack Grealish was all smiles as he officially unveiled his lucrative boots partnership with Puma

The Man City star is said to have landed a deal ‘worth considerably more’ than his Nike deal

Grealish, wearing Nike boots, pictured playing for England in last year’s FIFA World Cup

Grealish, 27, is already affiliated to luxury fashion house Gucci and headphone specialists Bose.

In a market where footballers have millions of followers on their social media pages, brands are acutely aware of the power they hold on fans. 

But there is more to the deals than just the huge figures involved. 

‘In the past, it would always have been about money,’ sports marketing agent Ehsen Shah told Bleacher Report. 

‘Nowadays, [players] are looking at the boot quality, what the boot is bringing to their performance, because there are so many fine margins. 

‘They’re looking at weight, they’re looking at [sole] plate, how that plate is affecting their feet, their posture. They’re looking at the fit. Only then are they looking at what marketing opportunities that brand can bring to them.’ 

So with Grealish landing a massive contract, how does his new tie-up with Puma compare to some of world football’s biggest boot deals?

KYLIAN MBAPPE (Nike, £14million-a-year)

Still only 24, Mbappe’s profile is only going to grow and grow. So it’s little wonder Nike and adidas were fighting it out to secure a deal with him in 2019.

The France and Paris Saint-Germain star, a World Cup winner in 2018, opted for Nike and agreed a 10-year deal worth around £140m.

Mbappe signed a contract extension at PSG last summer, turning down the advances of Real Madrid, but following the French club’s latest Champions League failure, you do wonder what the future holds for him.

Given the upward trajectory of the forward’s career, you imagine he could out-earn everybody on this list by the time he hangs up his boots.

Widely viewed as a contender to be the best player in the world in the next few years – and therefore a brand’s dream. 

Kylian Mbappe sports his Nike boots during Paris Saint-Germain’s recent match with Marseille

A post shared by Kylian Mbappé (@k.mbappe)

A post shared by Kylian Mbappé (@k.mbappe)

CRISTIANO RONALDO (Nike, £15million-a-year)

Cristiano Ronaldo was an unpolished diamond of a footballer when his partnership with Nike began way back in 2003. But the American company sensed greatness and they’ve been proved right.

In November 2016, when still a Real Madrid player, Ronaldo signed a ‘lifetime’ deal with Nike, becoming only the third athlete to do so after basketball legends Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

The long-term deal was worth an astonishing $1bn or £770m at the time, though because it’s over such a long span it’ll probably work out at about £15m-a-year well beyond his eventual retirement.

It’s an incredibly sound investment for Nike given Ronaldo is the most followed person on photo-sharing app Instagram, boasting 558 million followers and counting. His influence is unrivalled. 

Ronaldo, who now plays for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, has always worn different types of Nike boot, specifically the Mercurial Vapor which came to have his initials CR added to it.

Although his image has taken a battering with his acrimonious exit from Manchester United last year, there are plenty of aspiring players worldwide who still want the same boots as him.

Cristiano Ronaldo shows off the latest pair of Nike boots on his Instagram account

Affiliated with Nike since 2003, Ronaldo has a lifetime contract worth £15million-a-year

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano)

LIONEL MESSI (adidas, £18million-a-year)

Companies have been flocking to cash-in on the Messi name since he completed his own personal football fairytale by leading Argentina to World Cup glory in December.

But adidas have been on the Messi journey since 2006, when he was still a teenager making a name for himself at Barcelona.

When in the club’s famed La Masia academy, he’d worn Nike kit but adidas successfully challenged their rival’s claim to Messi’s image rights in court and what an excellent decision that proved.

Adidas now have a lifetime deal agreed with the Argentine star and he even has his own sub-brand of boots, adidas Messi.

It’s a bit like Nike’s hugely-popular Air Jordan brand built alongside NBA star Michael Jordan.

His deal with them is understood to be worth about £18m-a-year and you can rest assured kids will still want to wear the latest adidas Messi boots long after he has retired.

Adidas are in a state of flux, mind you, given the German brand is facing the prospect of posting their first annual loss in 30 years. But if there is cost-cutting to be done, Messi will be nowhere near it as one of their most prized ambassadors.

Along with Ronaldo he looks one of the safest investments in sport for brands. One of the greatest of all time.  

Argentine star Lionel Messi has a ‘lifetime’ contract with adidas worth £18m-per-year

A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

Messi sporting his adidas boots during last weekend’s match between PSG and Nantes 

ERLING HAALAND (Nike?, £20million-a-year)

This one isn’t confirmed yet but Grealish’s Manchester City colleague Erling Haaland could be on the brink of his own boot deal that would put him right up there with the most lucrative of all-time.

Reports late last month suggested the prolific Norwegian striker was close to agreeing a renewal with Nike worth around £20m-a-year.

After his most recent deal with Nike expired in January 2022, adidas and Puma were among the rival brands circling and both are believed to have submitted big money offers for him.

Puma are City’s kit suppliers and hoped that may tip the balance in their favour, while adidas chief executive Bjorn Gulden remains close friends with Haaland’s family.

But it’s understood he will stay loyal to Nike, having continued to wear their boots though he was no longer obliged to.

Along with Mbappe he is one of the most impressive players in the game today and is going to be a contender for the Best Player in the World title for the next decade. 

Erling Haaland is reportedly poised to sign a lucrative £20million-a-year deal with Nike 

The forward has scored 33 goals in 34 matches in all competitions for Man City this season

NEYMAR (Puma, £23million-a-year)

Top spot.  

The Brazilian star had worn Nike boots for his entire career and had two years left on an 11-year contract when he upped and moved over to Puma in 2020.

The German company offered him the largest-ever individual sponsorship contract in sports history – a whopping £23m-per-year – which proved too tempting to turn down.

The length of Neymar’s deal wasn’t revealed but the PSG forward doubled his money from the Nike deal.

‘I grew up watching films of great football icons like Pele, Johan Cruyff, Lothar Matthaus, Eusebio and Diego Maradona, who each played in Puma,’ he said.

‘I wish to bring back then legacy that those athletes created on the pitch.’

With Neymar now ruled out for the rest of the current season after undergoing ankle surgery, we may have seen the last of those Puma boots combined with PSG colours.

Brazil and PSG star Neymar has the most lucrative boot deal in football on an annual basis

A post shared by PUMA Football (@pumafootball)

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