Zalando reveals how footballer sponsorships are driving sportswear brand sales


Marcus Rashford’s feet have been named the ‘most valuable’ still playing in Euro 2020 and fifth place overall – worth £883,008 annually in the UK market alone. The England star attracts a search every 137 minutes from consumers for his Nike boots. 

Jack Grealish’s rising popularity also sees him being the only other England star ranking in the top 10, with a UK annual value of £739,032 and a search every 156 minutes. The Aston Villa man comes seventh in the tournament, and receives more consumer interest than Eden Hazard or Bruno Fernandes.

New research reveals which player at Euro 2020 has the most valuable feet of the tournament, earning the highest volume of searches for their signature boots from spending consumers. And despite his early exit, Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo easily claims the top spot with a search for his famous Nike boots every six minutes – over three times more online searches than any other player. 

Based on current search volume, Ronaldo’s Nike Mercurial Superfly CR7 ‘Spark Positivity’ boots has the potential to net Nike £22 million each year from search traffic alone. 

Online fashion retailer Zalando conducted the research as part of the launch of the Euro 2020 football and football boots categories, analysing online search volumes and value added for the boots of players competing at the tournament. Using this data, we can calculate which players have the strongest sponsorship pull, which boot brands are set to be the big winners of the tournament, and how much UK revenue they could generate for the global sports clothing giants.

Another victim of a shock round-of-16 exit, France’s Paul Pogba takes second spot overall, with a UK online search for his boots every 21 minutes. The midfielder was the most valuable footwear asset for Adidas at Euro 2020 – his name brings in a potential £4.4 million for Adidas in online boot searches each year. With his contract worth a reported £3 million per year, the deal represents great value for money for the sportswear brand.

Pogba’s France teammate Kylian Mbappé is in third place, attracting a UK search for his boots every 43 minutes, which is worth a potential £2.8 million each year to Nike.

The Euros are a proven stage for brands and sponsors who want global coverage. This was highlighted when Ronaldo made international headlines at a press conference, removing Coca Cola bottles from in front of the cameras and encouraging viewers to drink water instead, reportedly removing $2.84 billion from the company’s market value.

#National teamBrand sponsor/boot wornPlayerSearches every X minutesPotential annual revenue (brand £)Potential daily revenue (brand £)Potential revenue per minute (brand £)
1PortugalNike Mercurial Superfly CR7 ‘Spark Positivity’Cristiano Ronaldo6£22,225,554£60,892£42.29
2FranceAdidas Predator Freak.1 LowPaul Pogba21£4,428,000£12,132£8.42
3FranceNike Mercurial Superfly VIII EliteKylian Mbappé43£2,842,182£7,787£5.41
4WalesAdidas X 19.1Gareth Bale61£1,555,200£4,261£2.96
5EnglandNike Mercurial Superfly VIII EliteMarcus Rashford137£883,008£2,419£1.68
6BelgiumNike Phantom GT Elite DFKevin De Bruyne146£827,820£2,268£1.58
7EnglandNike Phantom GT EliteJack Grealish156£739,032£2,025£1.41
8BelgiumNike Mercurial Vapor 14Eden Hazard162£712,638£1,952£1.36
9SpainAdidas Copa Sense.1David De Gea168£561,600£1,539£1.07
10PortugalNike Mercurial Vapor 14Bruno Fernandes175£659,850£1,808£1.26

Analysing sales data, a leading retail manager at global sportswear retailer Zalando, says: “We can’t overestimate how much brands gain from sponsorship deals. Some footballers hold huge contracts, but it’s a calculated investment: this search data emphasises the immense value of being associated with top athletes. Getting world-famous sporting personalities to wear your products is a proven driver of sales. So far in 2021, the three top boot brands have had around 99% of sales, with the market leader alone accounting for 67%.

“New football boot releases can create a huge buzz, particularly in the run-up to a tournament like Euro 2020. But design is becoming more and more important in boots. They need a wow factor to get attention, especially when it’s pretty standard to have a new boot launch every month.

“But nothing makes people want a new pair quite like seeing top players strut their stuff in them. So when Hazard jinks past two defenders in his streamlined boots, or Pogba scores a scorcher with his eye-catching new footwear, that’s when these huge sponsorship deals turn into people searching online for the boots.”

Nike is top-scoring boot brand at Euro 2020

The incredible pulling power of Cristiano Ronaldo has helped Nike to cement its place at the top of the football boots league table. After Adidas, in second place, Puma is represented most often in the top 50 (with eight players), but Nike dominates the European scene.

  • Almost half (46%) of the top 50 most searched-for players at Euro 2020 wear Nike boots.
  • This equates to an annual search volume of 136,560 – 71% of player/boot searches. 
  • Nike dominates the top 10 for player/boot search volume, with seven players there being sponsored by the brand.
  • The closest competitor, Adidas, accounts for 34% of player/boot searches.
  • The annual search volume generated by Adidas players is 26% of the total. Nike sponsorships generate nearly three times more than Adidas deals.
  • Paul Pogba is Adidas’ star man in Europe, with the second highest number of player/boot searches. The Manchester United and France midfielder generates a search every 21 minutes.