David Beckham’s publicist signed an image-rights agreement with Neymar that makes Brazil’s most-marketable soccer player the first client of his new sports investment group
Simon Oliveira, who remains part of Beckham’s management team, said that Neymar’s management company, NR Sports, signed an accord through 2017 with the new Doyen Global unit of London-based hedge fund Doyen Group. Oliveira, who started Doyen Global with ex-Creative Artists Agency executive Matthew Kay, declined to provide financial details.
Oliveira said Doyen Global will seek new sponsors and partners for Neymar outside Brazil. The 21-year-old, who is joining Spanish champion Barcelona, is the fifth highest-earning soccer player with annual income of 20 million euros ($26 million), according to France Football magazine, which estimated that endorsements make up two thirds of the total.
“Our primary focus in the first stage will be on building Neymar’s profile in Asia, where we believe there is real potential for growth,” Oliveira said in a telephone interview from London yesterday. “The next few years are pivotal in his career and we are honored to be working alongside him.”
Neymar’s image graces billboards and television screens across Brazil. He appeared in one of its most popular soap operas last week before introducing Nike Inc. (NKE:US)’s new soccer shoe in Rio de Janeiro the next day. Those appearances followed the May 26 announcement to his more than 1 million followers on social networking site Instagram that he would leave Santos to join world player of the year Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
Since emerging in Santos’s first team as a 17-year-old, Neymar has been likened to three-time World Cup winner Pele, who spent much of his career with the club.
Neymar scored 138 goals in 229 matches for Santos, including one in a league game against Flamengo that was voted the best goal in professional soccer in 2011 by global governing body FIFA. That same year, Santos won the Libertadores Cup, South American soccer’s biggest club prize, for the first time since Pele helped the team secure the trophy in 1963.
“I’m pleased to work with Doyen,” Neymar, whose 10 sponsors include Nike, Volkswagen AG (VOW) and Unilever NV (UNA), said in a statement. “They will add to my team and we look forward to working with them.”
Neymar’s appeal has helped Santos’s revenue soar.
In a May 26 statement announcing that it had agreed to sell him to Barcelona, Santos said sales had tripled to almost 200 million reais ($94.7 million) since Neymar’s debut in 2009, and the club’s membership grew to 65,000 from 17,000.
How well Neymar’s brand continues to prosper may depend on his performance overseas, where he’s struggled at times to match his exploits in Brazil. He was part of the Brazil team beaten by underdog Mexico in the 2012 Olympic soccer tournament gold-medal match in London and was on the field as Messi scored twice in a 4-0 victory for Barcelona over Santos in the FIFA Club World Cup a year earlier.
“Not only is he a special talent, he has incredible charisma and a desire to work hard to maximize his potential,” said Oliveira, whose firm continues to consult with his former firm, XIX Entertainment, on Beckham and Formula-1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
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