By Barry Janoff
May 15, 2014: Lionel Messi is on the verge of signing a new contract with FC Barcelona, valued at £15.5m ($26 million U.S.) annually through the end of 2018, that would make him the highest paid soccer player in the world, according to industry analysts.
He also is on the verge of leading Argentina into the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, which runs June 12-July 13.
But Messi has taken some time out to play around in a different field, one in which he is able to use his hands.
Easy2.Company B.V. has signed a deal with Messi to support a signature line of Space Scooters, two-wheel scooters that are powered by pumping action.
The company, based in Heerhugowaard, The Netherlands, said that the soccer star would become part of "Team Messi" to promote special editions of Messi-branded Space Scooters worldwide.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
A promotional spot shows Messi riding on a signature Space Scooter with a group of kids. (See the spot here). Support will include Internet, social media and experiential marketing.
"The choice for Leo Messi and for his own brand was simple," Joost Blom, managing director for Easy2.Company, said in a statement. "He is loved all over the world, sympathetic, athletic and example for a lot of kids [of] what is possible to establish when you believe in yourself."
The company said that the Messi Space Scooter is scheduled to hit in stores and online in mid-June to coincide with the World Cup. The Messi Space Scooter would also be available from what Easy2.Company called a "future Messi Store e-commerce site."
The deal adds to a portfolio that sees Messi currently ranked among the top ten highest paid athletes in the world, making in excess of $41 million annually, split about evenly between his contract and endorsement deals.
He also has deals that include Turkish Airlines, Samsung Galaxy, adidas, Gillette and Pepsi.
According to Blom, "The Space Scooter helps children to go outside and enjoy the sporting and energetic way of transport. There are only a few people in the world who can carry out this news, of which Leo, with his own brand, is the best, we think."