Barcelona pips fierce rival Real Madrid to be named the world’s most valuable club

Despite a tumultuous period on and off the pitch, Barcelona is now the most valuable soccer club in the world, according to Forbes.

Valued at $4.76 billion, the Catalan giant heads the Forbes rankings for the first time after narrowly pipping fierce rivals Real Madrid to the top spot this year.

Real is valued at $4.75 billion but currently holds the bragging rights on the pitch after its 2-1 win the El Clasico on Saturday.

It’s a rare piece of good news for Barcelona, which has had its fair share of problems over the last year.

Historic debts, reported by Spanish newspaper El Mundo to be more than one billion dollars, forced Barcelona into a fire sale of some of the most important figures in its playing squad and recent presidential elections will hope to quell the animosity within the ranks.

It’s also trying to keep hold of star player Lionel Messi, who made public his desire to leave Barcelona last year and who subsequently criticized the club’s hierarchy after having to stay.

In February 2020, Barcelona also issued a statement to say it “categorically” denied responsibility for the publication of Messi’s $672 million contract in El Mundo.

The contract would make Messi the highest-paid athlete in sports history and the club said it would take legal action against the newspaper “for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.”

READ: The making of Bayern Munich’s wonderkid Jamal Musiala

Club values rise despite pandemic

Whilst Barcelona and Real occupy the top two spots on the rich list, Champions League winner Bayern Munich takes third spot, being valued at $4.22 billion.

It means Manchester United drop out of the top three into fourth, as the club continues its rebuilding process on the pitch. United had previously topped the rankings 11 times in the last 16 years.

United’s Premier League rivals Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur also make up the Top 10, with Paris Saint-Germain sitting amongst them in ninth.

On average, the value of the Top 20 richest clubs in the world has risen 30% in the last two years, according to Forbes, despite the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the game.

“The pain is far from over, with a worsening decline in matchday revenue during the current season, as most of the teams in Europe’s top leagues still permit few fans to attend games,” wrote Forbes’ Mike Ozanian.

Whilst Real slip to second in the overall rankings, it remains top in terms of commercial revenue, according to Forbes. Through sponsorship deals, advertising and kit deals, the club brought in $424 million last season. It still holds the most valuable shirt and kit deals in the world of soccer.