From batteries to beer: Neymar now the branding king
Before the World Cup in 2014, Neymar walked into an Italian watch shop in Tokyo and spent £140,000 on more than a dozen timepieces.
He returned three years later, not to buy more, but to launch his own design of his favourite brand - Gaga Milano.
Then, the number 11 on the face was encrusted with diamonds, representing his shirt number at Barcelona. Now, the diamonds outline the number 10, and for £1,050 (€1,200) you can tell the time like Neymar, too.
But why stop at watches? Neymar (below) is the face of Red Bull, Pilao coffee and Prohibida beer, so you can drink like him at any time of the day. You can dress like him in C&A underwear and Replay jeans, fly like him on Gol airlines, shave like him with Gillette, listen to music like him with Beats by Dre headphones and play like him in Nike boots.
And if you ever find yourself in Brazil with a flat car battery, there's a Neymar brand for you too - Baterias Heliar: "the best batteries for your car".
Neymar's pursuit of football's biggest prize begins again tomorrow when Brazil make their bow at the 2018 World Cup, but when it comes to his work off the field, the No 10 of the Selecao is already an emphatic winner.
He may still only be 26 years old, but he is already the face of 27 companies in Brazil and beyond and, according to the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes in the world, the fifth-biggest earner in sport.
Last year, the Paris St-Germain forward netted an eye-watering £54m from his club, including signing-on fees, and his basic wage is £600,000 (€686,000) a week - more than double any other player in the French league.
On top of this, his endorsements last year brought in another £13m. In 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi earned more money through endorsements (£35m and £20m respectively), but it is the sheer volume and acceleration of Neymar's tie-ins that makes him stand out.
According to Sportcal, a sports marketing intelligence company, since joining Manchester United in 2003, Ronaldo has signed sponsorship deals with 28 companies, and Messi 17.
Neymar has worked with at least 38 companies so far in his career, and it is only a matter of time before his earnings catch up.
When PSG paid €222m to sign him last summer, their owner, Qatari billionaire Nasser Al Khelaifi, spoke about Neymar, not as a player, but as a commodity.
"When you consider Neymar as a brand," he said, "maybe it won't seem so expensive. I'm sure we'll make more money than we've paid. Before Neymar signed, the club were worth €1 billion. Now it is worth €1.5 billion. The best player in the world is here.
"With him our project will grow even stronger and the league will become more interesting to everyone."
The Neymar "project" has not been without its hiccups at PSG: there are persistent rumours that he is unhappy at the club, with Real Madrid having made little secret of their desire to sign him, but there is no question that his arrival sent their profile stratospheric.
The question is whether he has already outgrown France.
"For brands, Neymar is now seen as a leader as opposed to being part of Messi's Barca team," said Conrad Wiacek, head of sponsorship at Sportcal.
"The only issue is the relative strength of the French league, which is a hindrance to Neymar's personal brand unless PSG can win the Champions League."
The other way for Neymar to boost his personal brand to giddy new heights is, of course, lifting that famous golden trophy in the Luzhniki Stadium next month - something that neither Ronaldo nor Messi have done, and the final frontier for a footballer whose CV is already groaning with honours.
"His endorsements are based more around his profile in Brazil," Wiacek added.
"So, doing something significant at a global level, like winning the World Cup, will make him even more attractive to brands." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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