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Neymar's new Puma deal 'the most expensive individual sponsorship contract in sport'

Neymar's shock switch to become to new face of German brand Puma has reportedly come with a massive 25 million (US$29.3 million) per-year deal - the largest individual sponsorship contract in sport.

The 28-year-old Brazilian parted ways with Nike, ending one of the sportswear giants most high-profile sponsorship deals a decade and a half after signing the star striker as a 13-year-old prodigy.

The PSG forward still had two years left on an 11-year deal with Nike, but opted to break the contract in favour of Puma after being offer a staggering sum.

Neymar's reported 25 million (US$29.3 million) a-year crushes both Cristiano Ronaldo's `€16 million (US$19.1 million) Nike deal and Lionel Messi's €19.6 million (US$23 million) Adidas partnership.

The huge sums were revealed by Forbes, but the length of the deal is unkown, as Neymar settles into life as the new face of the German brand, wearing Puma boots, lifestyle wear and training gear.

Puma announced the partnership with the slogan 'The King is back', referencing the company's iconic Puma KING boot, worn by Brazilian legend Pelé.

Neymar insisted that Puma's history was also an important factor in the Nike break: "I grew up watching videos of great football legends such as Pelé, Cruyff, Matthaus Eusebio and Maradona. I wish to bring back the legacy that those athletes created on the pitch."

Neymar and Nike began working together when the Brazilian star was 13 years old. Six years later, while playing for Santos, Neymar signed a 11-year deal with the sportswear giant. Set to earn Neymar US$105 million (€88.1 million), according to Brazilian website UOL.

The ‘Neymar Jr.’ brand connected well with Nike products and their branding. Although, last year, Neymar’s personal brand was damaged following accusations of raping a Brazilian woman. During the investigation Nike was “very concerned” but continued to support the striker after the investigation was dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Throughout Neymar’s career Nike have been the kit supplier for the clubs he’s played for, including the Brazilian national team. However, it’s believed the relationship between Nike and Neymar’s current club, Paris Saint-Germain, will not be affected.

Some may consider Neymar to be PSG’s talisman, though Nike can be perceived to not be too concerned as they sponsor Neymars’ strike partner, Kylian Mbappé. Seven years younger and World Cup winner, Mbappé is perceived to have more commercial potential than Neymar which would benefit PSG and Nike. So, would make sense for Nike to continue to be PSG’s kit supplier.

Ranked by Forbes, Neymar is the fourth highest paid athlete as he’s estimated to earn US$95 million per year. US$70 million is paid by PSG through his playing contract, while the remaining US$25 million is sourced from his sponsors such as, Beats Electronics, Red Bull, EA, MasterCard, and Gillette.

Author: Kai McKechnie