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FOOTBALL

Barcelona agree ‘world record kit deal’

Barcelona agreed a “long-term” contract extension with American sportswear giants Nike on Saturday, which will reportedly see the Catalan club surpass Manchester United with the most lucrative kit-sponsorship deal in the world.

Barcelona agree 'world record kit deal'
A record-breaking deal will ease the strains on Barca’s finances as a €420 million renovation of their Camp Nou stadium looms. Photo: AFP

Barca said the details of the deal will be revealed and ratified at the club’s next general assembly. Catalan sports dailies Sport and Mundo Deportivo reported, however, that the world champions could make up to a staggering €155 million euros ($174 million) a season.

That would dwarf the current £75 million ($109million) a season, 10-year deal Manchester United agreed with Adidas last year.

“FC Barcelona and Nike, Inc. have extended their current sponsorship deal, which was due to end on 30 June 2018,” Barcelona said in a statement.

“The long-term agreement is a landmark in global football and builds upon a highly successful partnership.

“The details of the agreement will be reported and will have to be ratified at the next Club General Assembly.”

A record-breaking deal with ease the strains on Barca’s finances with a €420 million renovation of their Camp Nou stadium due to begin in 2018.

Moreover, the club are reportedly set to announce an extension to Brazilian star Neymar’s contract — who is a key Nike-sponsored athlete — in the coming weeks.

“Through this new agreement with Nike we are extending a strategic alliance for the club, while also reinforcing our global position, hand in hand with the leading global sports brand,” said Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu.

“We are excited by this new agreement and are confident that we’ll be able to celebrate continued sporting successes together.”

Despite sealing a 24th La Liga title last weekend, Barca are yet to agree a shirt sponsorship deal for next season as talks with current sponsors Qatar Airways have stalled.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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