There is only one story in town for Paris photojournalist Olivier Sanchez: Lionel Messi’s new existence.
Images of the Argentine footballer, his wife, and children settling into the French city a month after coming have been widely published in newspapers and publications around the world.
“It’s Messi and no one else for me today,” he remarked. “Everyone is vying for a piece of him. He has the title of king. Simple.”
When Messi’s childhood club FC Barcelona announced that they could no longer afford to maintain the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, PSG jumped in.
According to reports, PSG agreed to pay him a whopping net salary of 71 million euros ($84 million) over two years, but club chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi stated flatly that the revenue he would bring in would “shock” people.
The cash flow isn’t limited to the club.
Messi represents a commercial opportunity for everyone from luxury real estate agents to Argentine restaurant owners, paparazzi to private concierge.
When the family finally broke cover from their hotel, Sanchez said he had at least two photographers collecting tips and following Messi and PSG for the first images of the family.
Locals admired him in Barcelona for his down-to-earth lifestyle, which included waving at neighbors, eating seafood on the beach, and taking his children to bouncy castles.
“If we can catch them in a park, or wandering around town, or even at Disneyland Paris,” Sanchez said, “the newspapers will go crazy.”
Meanwhile, Susie Hollands, a luxury real estate agent, is scanning the market for a home fit for the world’s second highest-paid athlete in 2021, according to Forbes. Hollands, the creator of the Vingt Paris boutique real estate business, has previously worked with PSG and is familiar with their needs.
“Typically, they’ll want 1 000 square meters of space – which is scarce in central Paris – as well as parking for their automobiles,” Hollands added.
It’s also crucial to have top-notch security and privacy.
Hollands worked on the residence of a PSG player who paid 35 000 euros ($30 000) per month, saying that such a rental arrangement would earn her 50 000-60 000 euros in fees.
“We’re looking around to see what we can find. You either have it or you don’t, however “Hollands explained that she was part of a small network of agents with whom the club collaborated.
After the Emir of Qatar purchased PSG in 2011, Yves Abitbol’s concierge company assisted some of the club’s highest-profile players with settling in, organizing the property hunt, dealing with banking and insurance paperwork, and recruiting house staff for several years.
He occasionally catered to a player’s more affluent desires, such as visits to sports car showrooms and expensive watch boutiques.
PSG had a close relationship with Abitbol’s company, MyConcierge, until it formed its own internal staff few years ago, cutting people like him out.
Despite this, Abitbol’s high-end travel business has experienced a Messi surge. “I’ve had requests from all over the world to organize three days in Paris with seats for Messi’s match,” he stated.
The high demand to see Messi in person, even if he was only watching from the stands rather than playing, saw tickets for PSG’s first game after his signing, a home game against Strasbourg, sell for over 800 euros secondhand.
He was poised to join fellow superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in a fearsome attacking combination against Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
PSG claims that his number 30 shirt, which costs 108 euros, has sold faster than any other. PSG acquired 3 million followers across social media platforms from the Friday Messi was initially connected to the club in early August to the following Tuesday when he signed, according to activity tracker Talkwalker.
The club was not alone this time.
“We noticed an increase on social media,” said Enrique Tirigall, co-founder of Volver, a high-end Argentine restaurant brand in Paris. After Messi signed his contract, reservations for his flagship steakhouse, which is a frequent hangout for PSG stars like Messi’s colleague Angel Di Maria, came in.
Tirigall stated, “Everyone wants to eat what he eats.”