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Form Over Function: Is A Footballer's Image Becoming More Important Than Their Talent?

29/09/2016 13:52
REUTERS

At the beginning of the season, the world record transfer fee was broken with Manchester United splashing out £89million on Paul Pogba. This seems like a lot of money to you and I, and it is. But, it's not that much for a team as massive as Manchester United. Particularly when they managed to make £190million from 'Pogba' shirt sales and image rights within three weeks of signing.

Now, if this single player can net £100million in profit, in less than a month, does he really need to be that good at football? Of course he does. Don't be silly.

But, if anything, this just reiterates just how important image is becoming in the sporting world. You're no longer just an athlete. You're a brand. You're an ambassador.

Let's have a look at some of the image necessities that come with being a modern day footballer.

Equipment

You might not consider them equipment, but I can assure you footballers do - boots. Boots are pivotal to a players' performance these days. Wearing specific boots depending on which position you play. Some studs are designed in a way which help with sharp turns, others improve acceleration. There's more science behind these things than you'd immediately think.

Some players are also paid very large amounts of money to wear a specific brand of boot. Once these deals have been signed, they cannot wear a rival brand. They become an ambassador for their brand, and advertise the brand to their fans. If you thought that a players earnings came only from their clubs, you were wrong.

Clothing

Much like their boots, footballers tend to find a clothing style that they like, and stick to it. Some players might even sign endorsements like they do with boots, David Beckham is a good example of this with Armani.

Though, most players just tend to find a style that suits their personality, and they flaunt it. There have been some very interesting (to say the least) outfits donned by football personalities over the years.
You tend to find that the more eccentric players are the most likely to fall into the above category. Mario Balotelli, for one, has a kind of 'hip hop' style that he likes to stick to. David Beckham, again, likes to go a little 'out there' with his clothing choices.

Grooming

Now, when it comes to a player image, one of the most important aspects is, well, their image. How they actually look, as a person, can itself be just as recognisable as their boots or their clothes. Think Zlatan's ponytail, or Valderrama's afro! Very distinguished and very memorable.

One other trend that hasn't missed the football world, is the recent beard trend. You'll find many prominent footballers sporting the chin wig these days. My personal favourite would have to be Crystal Palace's Joe Ledley.

Being in the public eye, these players obviously have to take care of their beards, and much like boots and clothes, will only use the best products, obviously. Using top-of-the-line beard oils such as Seven Potions, they can make sure their beards look on point for their adoring fans.

So, in summary, I still wouldn't think that a player's image is more important than their talent. But, in today's game, which is strongly influenced by business and branding, player image is becoming more and more significant on the game.

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