Soccer is the most watched sport in the world. It is the sport played in more countries across the world than any other. From the mighty behemoth that is the globally revered English Premier League to the storied supremacy of Serie A; the silky-smooth skill sets witnessed in the Dutch soccer world to the more recent star-attracting MLS that is taking American soccer to new heights. This is a sport that can make sporting superstars, one with clubs that are supported around the world and known universally.
Whether you support Manchester United or Liverpool, Inter Milan or Juventus, Munich or Dortmund, Miami or Toronto, for many devoted fans, their club means everything to them. In many cases, generations of families support their local team, and in other cases, this local support is booted and bolstered by an international fan base from across the globe. From global soccer networks that offer blanket coverage of matches to bookmakers that offer upcoming games soccer odds on every single match being played anywhere and everywhere in the world, this is a sport that commands attention.
When it comes to soccer, it’s big business as much as it is a sport. Of course, the product on the pitch makes or breaks the success of a club or franchise, but there is so much more to what contributes to this primacy or failure. In the modern game, global superstars are one thing that sets soccer apart from so many other sports. Though there are superstars in other sports, of course, soccer stars are truly global in both their appeal and their recognition. But just how powerful are these players, and what is their overall impact when it comes to the stature and significance of the clubs they represent?
What’s In A Name? Marketing, Money, Success and Superiority
Watch any soccer world cup and you will hear commentators not just talk about the chances a country may have to win, but how influential any given team’s star players are. Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Benzema Jr., Kante, Oscar, Haaland, De Brune…the list goes on, each one included a bone fide superstar for both club and country. Many of these players, like Beckham, Pele, Beckenbauer et.al. before them have achieved that apex of superstardom: being known by one name alone, think Madonna, Cher, Prince, you know what I mean.
When it comes to marketing and money making, these global superstars are a club’s dream. From merchandising such as club shirts with the name and number to the advertising revenue that comes through their brand recognition, the name means a lot. Even the bookmakers love a soccer star. Take one look at betting options for the 2026 Soccer World Cup, for example, and you’ll see everything from who will get the golden boot (player who scores the most goals in the tournament) to how many minutes they will play or whether they will get a red card. It’s all about marketing and money making.
With all this comes financial success that usually translates to on field superiority. Inter Miami of the MLS are a case in point, a class tale of sporting rags to riches after signing a global superstar. Step forward Lionel Messi. Before him, the club were anchored to the foot of the MLS Eastern League. Since his arrival, his goals, his money generating image and reputation, they have soared up the rankings, their revenue has gone through the roof, and everything in their garden is rosy again. See how that works? It’s the power of the player and it’s a very important thing these days.
Soccer Superstars Versus The History Of A Club: Fame, Finances And The Future
You may have heard, like I have, soccer managers say that no one player is bigger than the club. Beckham was never bigger than Manchester United, Messi was never bigger than Barcelona, Neymar was never bigger than PSG., etc. This oft repeated phrase is often heard when a player leaves the club or refuses to sign a new contract. But is it true? Is the lure of a soccer superstars earning power, image rights, merchandising machine and overall glamour sometimes something that overwhelms a club and makes them bend over backwards to keep, buy, or extend the contract of the player?
Some of the highest paid players in soccer certainly seem to call the shots in the short term. For many clubs, the history will never be overtaken or overshadowed but, at the same time, the fame and finances that can secure and enhance the future is also a major factor when considering which superstars to put on their payroll. It seems like, for some clubs, however rich, trophy-filled and proud their history, the future is also important, which is often where the finance plays the major part.
Ultimately, soccer clubs are businesses and soccer superstars are gilded, sought after, superior and much craved assets. And which business doesn’t want the best assets, the best person to make their brand a global icon, and the finest player to grace the hallowed turf of their soccer stadium? If you find a club that wouldn’t sign the soccer superstars of the international stage if they had the money, let me know. I think I may have a long wait.