FC Barcelona have confirmed that Japanese company Rakuten will appear on the front of the team’s shirt and become the "Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner" for the next four years, starting in July of 2017.
As part of the deal, Barça will receive €55 million a year base, plus €1.5m for each time they win La Liga and an additional €5m each time they win the Champions League.
In a press conference to announce the partnership, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed that defender Gerard Piqué and his wife Shakira helped negotiate the deal with the Rakuten chief executive, Hiroshi Mikitani:
“Gerard Piqué and Shakira are very close friends with Mr Mikitani,” Bartomeu said. “It was in the summer of 2015, Gerard organized a dinner in San Francisco during our summer tour. At that dinner we met Mr Mikitani, who was, for us, an incredible person.”
With this new sponsorship, Barcelona may have a bit more leeway in renewing the last member of MSN, and Bartomeu directly addressed the looming Lionel Messi contract situation:
“I believe we’ve got a team with incredible players, all of them. There is nonetheless a leader, Leo Messi, he is well known and popular all over the world,” he said.
“We’re all positive Leo Messi will end his sporting career in Barça. All the members of Barça believe this is how it has to be, because he is the player that in the last few years has brought us sporting success.”