Gerard Pique could have made it, even bigger, as a businessman if he never played the round leather game. The Barcelona star has received commendations for single-handedly bringing to fruition, Rakuten’s latest sponsorship deal with the Spanish giants.
This comes as an extra trophy for the player who has won almost everything with his club. Pique brokered the deal all by himself, reports confirm.
Hiroshi Mikitani (R) founded the company in February 1997 as MDM, Inc., and is still its chief executive.
Rakuten [translated as “optimism”] is a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo.
Media reports confirm that the company’s B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales.
Last Wednesday, the Japanese retailer Rakuten were announced as Barcelona’s new sponsor, and the business kicks off next season.
During the official launch party, announcement was made that the company will act as sponsors for four years with an option for an additional fifth season.
The deal is valued at 55 million euros per season.
Barcelona president Jose Bartomeu confirmed in a Twitter post that Gerard Pique and Rakuten’s owner discussed the business deal sometime in 2015, during Barcelona’s pre-season tour to America.
Bartomeu: “The deal began at a dinner hosted by Gerard Piqué at Hiroshi Mikitani’s house in San Francisco in 2015.”pic.twitter.com/B15aZLi54I
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 16, 2016
Rakuten’s new deal with Barcelona has been described as one of the biggest in world football.
The Japanese company will take over from Qatar Airways as the the club’s official and biggest sponsor starting from next summer.
Pique and Mikitani have had a public relationship for some years now.
During Barca’s U.S.tour, the defender had a good time with this Japanese business mogul, and both even took photos which Pique later posted on Twitter in 2015.
I’m with my friend Mickey visiting the Rakuten’s office. Great time in Tokyo with him and his family! pic.twitter.com/cF8pFiBl1l
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) June 27, 2015
“Gerard Pique and Shakira are very close friends with Mr Mikitani,” Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona club president, told reporters.
“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,” he said, according to a CNN report.
Image: Gerard Pique and Shakira
“As FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner, Rakuten is set to power our global brand strategy and, as FCB’s first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo and PriceMinister to build an innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc.
“I am very excited about joining the Barça community as I have personally followed the team for decades and have long admired their unique playing style and professionalism, their commitment to success and their culture of nurturing young talent – all values we share at Rakuten,” he added.