Tag: Lionel Messi

From Our CEO: Experience The World’s Best with Icons XP

One of the pivotal moments of my life happened in Barcelona. It was 2001 and I was drinking cheap cava in a hillside terrace bar overlooking the city. Dusk fell and the cityscape turned sparkly. I had a job I hated for a dotcom startup in London and I was on a football tour in the Catalan capital.

“Why don’t I just quit my job and come and live here? It’s got sun, sand and sexy football – what more could you want?” I asked.

Five months later I’d left everything behind to move to Barcelona to play, watch and teach people how to talk about football. Some of my friends were incredulous. They said: “You’re just going out there for the experience. Why would you do that?”

Fast forward to 2018. I’m reading an article written by the founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky. He’s talks about how his company have been able to create a trust platform, unlocking the spaces left vacant in people’s spare rooms and empty houses. Their next step, he explains is to create 100 million entrepreneurs, unlocking the potential not of spaces but of people. “We’re creating Airbnb experiences where people all over the world offer their talents, skills and knowledge to others to buy as they travel. Hidden city tours, salsa classes, art history lessons, Airbnb can use its trust platform to put consumers together with suppliers,” Chesky says.

Now, what that got to do with memorabilia?

Well, firstly, if we can bring memorabilia together with memories, we are tapping into what Generation XP want more than anything: stories to tell. At Icons, we have access to the world’s biggest superstar footballers and we can get to the world’s greatest sporting events. Hey, it’s why I do what I do.

So, this month we’re launching Icons XP with the tagline ‘Experience The World’s Best’. As with lots of these ideas, we start in Barcelona. Icons now have a private corporate box at Camp Nou. If you love Leo Messi, you can now buy Experience Memorabilia package from Icons.com and be our guests at his next game to see him play in the flesh. We were in the box for the Joan Gamper Trophy earlier in the year and the little magician we love so much scored right in front of us. Imagine watching El Clasico or a UEFA Champions League semi-final and seeing Leo, Luis Suarez or Philippe Coutinho doing something truly iconic? Maybe we can even get them to pop into the box after the match to say hello… we’re working on it.

Now wouldn’t that would be an iconic experience?

While it starts with Barcelona it most certainly does not end there. Icons are co-promoting a speaker tour that brings Manchester United legend Eric Cantona to London, Manchester and Ireland throughout October. Icons founder Edward Freedman worked with Eric at United and, in fact, Cantona was the first player he got to sign shirts, making him the very first on a long and ever expanding list of Icons. For Eric’s tour, Icons XP is offering VIP and VVIP tickets that allows fans to come backstage to meet Eric himself. When we did this two years ago a grown man fainted upon meeting Le God. That’s what it means to our customers.

Memories plus memorabilia. That has a nice ring to it, I think.

If we can bring fans closer to their heroes through events, tickets, boxes or meets and greets, we will. Our roster comprises the biggest names in sport and we have a reputation for running the best competitions and giveaways for money-can’t-buy prizes. If The FC Barcelona Experience and Eric Cantona Live work, we’ll expand, offering more and more experiences to our customers. Maybe we can even put together those experiences in cities around the world with Airbnb’s local experts. A Diego Maradona tour around Boca in Buenos Aires, for example. Maybe a Steven Gerrard framed memento from a trip to Anfield or a native New Yorker talking you through the iconic nights of Madison Square Gardens.

Icons XP is a new way to get closer to your heroes. And we couldn’t be more excited to bring it to you. See you in Barcelona soon.


  • FC Barcelona Experience Memorabilia packages are available for matches throughout FC Barcelona’s 2018/19 campaign, including the world-famous El Clasico derby plus crucial La Liga clashes, thrilling Copa Del Rey ties and, of course, those epic UEFA Champions League nights. Contact [email protected] for prices, match availability and further information.
  • Eric Cantona kicks off his UK speaker tour on October 24th with a show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. VIP and VVIP tickets are available for all dates. Click here for more information.


Press Release: We’re pioneering blockchain tech in the fight against fakes

  • Market leader Icons worked with digital agency Zone to launch blockchain application
  • Revolutionary tech will enhance consumer trust by tracking the provenance of signed items
  • App will also be used in the fight against fakes and frauds
  • Leo Messi signed shirts among the first items to be ‘b-locked’

London, 18 September 2018 The world’s largest football memorabilia company has become the first application of a pioneering blockchain solution that underpins the value of signed items with the aim of securing consumer trust.

Icons, the world’s leading originator and supplier of signed football memorabilia, has joined with digital experts Zone to create Icons b-locked, an online ledger that tracks the provenance of signed items.

The first items to be used in the Icons b-locked application will be shirts autographed by Lionel Messi during a private signing session with the FC Barcelona superstar in mid-September.

Icons b-locked uses blockchain – the distributed ledger technology that sits behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin – to create a permanent record of signed items, including details of when and where each item was signed.

Consumers use a unique code assigned to their product to view specific details of the item and its associated signing.

The technology comes at a time when the sports memorabilia market, estimated to be worth $2-4billion, is under threat from the rise of fraudsters manipulating online auction websites, as well as the emergence of automated robots capable of replicating signatures for fake products.

Icons CEO, Dan Jamieson, says: “At Icons, we’ve always gone to extraordinary lengths to provide evidence of the authenticity of our goods – not only for our customers but also for the integrity of the market.

“Every day we’re asked if our products are really signed by the players themselves. Consumers need more reassurance than ever. That’s why we’ve worked with Zone to create this world-first product. We want this to be the gold standard which ultimately helps the market grow.”

Edward Freedman, Icons founder, added: “I truly believe that Icons b-locked will put to rest the question of authenticity. It will revolutionise our industry and hopefully it will take us to a level that everyone will be aspiring to.”

Icons has been working with the world’s biggest sports stars since 1999 and has entered into exclusive contracts with the likes of Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Eden Hazard.

The company has long-term relationships with Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr and Eric Cantona, among many others. It has had the exclusive official UEFA Champions League memorabilia license for the past six seasons and the worldwide deal was recently renewed for the 2018-21 cycle. Icons also has official memorabilia licences for the FIFA World Cup and FA England.

Jon Davie, Chief Client Officer at Zone, commented: “For all the hype about blockchain, practical applications so far have been few and far between.

“Working with Icons, we had an opportunity to create a blockchain application that ordinary customers can experience, understand and benefit from. The opportunities are endless. Not just in the sports memorabilia market, but in art, antiques, collectables – any market where establishing authenticity and tracking provenance is important.”

For more information please contact Icons CEO Dan Jamieson ([email protected] or +44 20 7267 3934).

Stay up-to-date with Icons b-locked by joining us on Telegram. Click here to join our channel.


About Zone

One of the UK’s leading technology and customer experience agencies, Zone is part of global professional services giant Cognizant, who acquired the agency in October last year.

Recently hailed by the London Stock Exchange as one of the UK’s most inspiring companies, the agency’s 250+ strategy, content and technology experts helps ambitious brands such as Adidas, BMW, Aviva, Barratt Homes, Electrolux, Lloyds Banking Group, Maersk and Unileverwin in a world where digital is mission critical.



Dispatches from Russia: A FIFA World Cup Diary

“What were you expecting? A grizzly bear playing a balalaika and drinking vodka?”

“No, I was expecting a paunchy man in a tracksuit named Vasya to throw me in his trunk and drive me to Mordovia.”

“Oh, so you know Vasya?”

****

Expectation. It’s a word you hear a lot in the build-up to a FIFA World Cup. Especially if you happen to live in England. Are our expectations too high? When do we expect to go out? Should we expect penalties? Do we expect trouble in the host country?

More often than not, there’s only one way to find the answers to these questions. And that’s exactly why I was so excited to get the chance to experience the FIFA World Cup through my own eyes – to see the answers unfold on the pitch in front of me and to find out what it’s really like in a foreign country that to so many appears cold and unwelcoming.

Sure, you could argue that I’ve not come to the real Russia. Right now, Russia is in its Sunday best. It’s a Russia that’s been told to behave and be polite to outsiders. And yet, in Saint Petersburg, where I started my FIFA World Cup adventure a few days ago, I still found, and continue to find, that my expectations were far removed from anything even resembling the reality of Russia.

A hotbed of football fandom, the FIFA Fanfest in Moscow sits in front of the stunning State University building.

Though I can’t speak for the rest of the country, Saint Petersburg and Moscow have appeared to be almost ultra-friendly and cosmopolitan. There are no brutalist Soviet office blocks. No scary skinhead men spoiling for a scrap. Instead, in Saint Petersburg in particular, I found Venetian canals, vape shops and and hipster burger joints.

Replace the cyrillic signage on the city streets and you could fool me that this was Copenhagen.

Then comes the football. You can’t move for football out here. There’s FIFA World Cup bunting, plant pots decorated like the classic Telstar football. Zabivaka, the official FIFA World Cup mascot, is everywhere. When I arrived in Moscow, Brazil’s match against Costa Rica was streamed live in the carriages on the metro. Everyone here wants to know who you’re supporting and who you think will win the tournament.

Which brings me to Argentina. I was lucky enough to be in the stadium for the Marcos Rojo rescue act. I have been to many stadiums and many matches around the world. I’ve even been to three UEFA Champions League finals. But the noise, the atmosphere, the palpable tension giving way to sheer joy and elation when that goal was scored was something I’d never experienced ever before.

Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg sits at the end of a mile-long island near a children’s theme park and a vast expanse of parkland. On Tuesday, it was overrun by Argentines in search of a miracle.

The Argentines have come here in mind-boggling numbers, all praying for the same miracle. They hope – perhaps against all logic and reason – that Lionel Messi alone can deliver a spectacular upset. Because it’s not Argentina against the world right now. It’s Argentina against themselves.

As a massive Messi fan, I hope he can bring them glory. I hope he can do it for every single Argentine I have met on this extraordinary trip. I hope he is able to do it for Carlos and his friends, who bought me a beer in Copenhagen airport just because I had an Argentina shirt in my bag. I hope he can do it for the old guy I met in Saint Petersburg, who told me he was among the few people he knows who prefers Messi to Diego Maradona. I hope he can do it for the lads in the Moscow FIFA Fan Fest with the Newell’s Old Boys banner.

I hope, just as much as I do for England, that they don’t expect too much.


Shop from our full range of official FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia today.

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Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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We Predict… The 2017-18 Season

So, here we are again. When Leicester City travel to Arsenal on Friday night to open the 2017-18 Premier League season, it’ll be the first of 380 league matches that stretch over ten months and determine the fates of twenty topflight clubs. Win roughly 25 of your 38 matches and you’ll be in with a shout of the title; avoid losing more than 20 times and you should, in theory, stay up. It’s as simple as that, right?

Well, not quite. This is, after all, one of the most unforgiving leagues in all of world football. It’s a division in which the title defence of the two previous champions ended in finishes of 10th and 12th respectively. Where a team with five UEFA Champions League winners amongst its ranks could only muster a measly 13th place in 2016-17. And where a side who finished some 32 points shy of last season’s champions have spent nearly £100million on new recruits over the summer.

This is indeed a brutal league. But that’s exactly why it attracts the biggest audiences, a number of the biggest stars and most certainly the biggest names in management. For the likes of Mourinho, Conte, Pochettino, Klopp, Wenger and Guardiola, this weekend’s action offers the potential first step towards the ultimate glory. But to whom the trophy will go is anyone’s guess.

Giving it our best shot, we, the staff and partners of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the big kick-off. But don’t just take our word, get involved on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions for the season ahead. You can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

It’s make or break time for Pep Guardiola in Manchester

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Liverpool (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion
Overachievers: Everton – The Toffees have spent big but have invested well this summer. Wayne Rooney‘s return brings valuable experience to a dressing room packed with new and exciting faces.
Underachievers: Arsenal – Last year I predicted that because the Gunners had spent nothing they would falter. This year, despite the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette, the same problems will persist. Wenger should have left years ago.
Golden Boot: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Ederson (Manchester City) – The Brazilian youngster is an improvement on former keepers at the Etihad.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winners: AC Milan

Random prediction: Lionel Messi will become only the fifth player ever to have won five Pichichi trophies after he finishes the season as La Liga’s top scorer.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: West Ham United – The Hammers have finally bought a striker with bags of Premier League experience.
Underachievers: Southampton – After years of gradual progress, decline will finally set in at St Mary’s.
Golden Boot: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – I always go for Liverpool‘s big money signing…

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winners: Liverpool. Come on, we can all dream!
UEFA Europa League winners: Manchester United will retain the trophy after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages.

Random prediction: Barcelona will improve despite the departure of Neymar Jr. They’ll wrestle the Spanish title back from Real Madrid.

Wayne Rooney has returned to Everton – could his experience bring success to Goodison?

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Chelsea – A paper thin squad coupled with the return of UEFA Champions League football should make life tough for the Blues but Eden Hazard will keep them winning.
Underachievers: Manchester City‘s backline – Pep’s back four will improve on last season but they’ll still leak plenty of goals.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian will make a big difference for United but if Liverpool can sign a central defender the title is in the bag.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: Paris Saint-Germain – Neymar Jr will take the Parisians that one step further they need this year.
UEFA Europa League winners: Villarreal – Though Arsenal will surely walk it if only they try.

Random predictions: Dele Alli‘s rise to superstardom continues, earning him a big money move at the end of the season for, let’s say, £200million. From March onwards, a number of players will feign and/or elongate injuries in order to be fresh for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. One of Nathan Redmond or Tom Davies sneaks onto England‘s plane for Russia.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Chelsea (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City
Overachievers: Newcastle United – The Rafa Revolution rolls on. In fact, he even manages to take a handful of points from former employers Liverpool and Chelsea.
Underachievers: Stoke City – Mark Hughes wins the sack race feeling the absence of the brilliant Marko Arnautovic. The rest of the bottom half chews them up and spits them out.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) – Manchester City fans will thank their lucky stars for that buy-back clause as the exciting young forward links up with Jamie Vardy to devastating effect.

FA Cup winners: West Ham United – Slaven Bilic’s side overcome Championship opposition in the Final.
League Cup winners: Cambridge Unit- ah, no, we’re out already. Okay, let’s go with Manchester City.

UEFA Champions League winners: Real Madrid – No-one thought back-to-back titles could be done. Why can’t they make it three-in-a-row with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the top of their game?
UEFA Europa League winners: Lyon – The French side weren’t too far off last season and this year the Final takes place in their own back yard.

Random prediction: A goalkeeper will get on the scoresheet at some stage this season. Liverpool sacrifice the topflight for a deep run in the UEFA Champions League as they reach the semi-finals. Cambridge United win automatic promotion from League Two.

Icons favourite Dele Alli: world football’s next £200million player?

Joe Turnbull, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Stoke City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa Benitez is experienced at Premier League level. I wouldn’t bet against him taking the Toon into the top ten.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Friction between Antonio Conte and the board will be their downfall. New boy Alvaro Morata won’t click and injuries will deplete their squad, leaving the Stamford Bridge side languishing in sixth.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) – Though he cost a lot of money, the Belgian brings guaranteed goals. Lukaku is a fantastic player who will step up to the plate and may even give Jose a long run in the UEFA Champions League.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan – After the summer the Rossoneri have had, it’s difficult to see past them. The English clubs will represent themselves well.

Random prediction: Neymar Jr carries Paris Saint-Germain all the way to the Final but they come up just short to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Matt Sheppard, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Chelsea
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa will finally get to show exactly why he decided to stick by the Toon Army following their relegation the season before last.
Underachievers: West Ham United – There’s lots of hype around the Hammers’ big-name signings but most of them will prove well past their sell-by date.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – The Portuguese international will form a partnership with Kevin de Bruyne that turns into quite something.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Manchester City

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan

Random prediction: Pep Guardiola will resign at the end of the season, following a failure to land the league or UEFA Champions League. Nathaniel Chalobah will be on that plane to Russia next year.

Italian giants AC Milan are well fancied for UEFA Europa League glory

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Premier League winners: Arsenal
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Manchester City (3rd), Liverpool (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Arsenal – Without the distraction of trying (and repeatedly hopelessly failing) to win the UEFA Champions League, the Gunners focus on domestic matters. Momentum stays with the team early in 2018 when they would usually falter.
Underachievers: Manchester United – Mourinho has made a number of big money signings but The Special One will be unable to get the team to gel. Without a trophy, Jose gets grumpier by the day.
Golden Boot: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
Signing of the season: Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) – In a time when we have £200million players, Wenger still finds a bargain in this free transfer.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Villarreal

Random prediction: Arsene Wenger will call it a day having finally won the league, bowing out on a high. (I’m going to keep predicting this each year until it’s true!)

Harm Jan Deuring, De Hand van Maradona

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Watford
Overachievers: Huddersfield Town – The Terriers do what many believe to be impossible: they avoid relegation.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Morata for Diego Costa is a mistake while Eden Hazard will be sorely missed during the opening weeks of the season. Liverpool will also struggle under the weight of their busy schedule.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) and Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) share the honour.
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian is the missing link in Jose’s midfield. Tottenham‘s first signing of the season will be a close second – whoever it may be!

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Surprisingly, a side outside the top six!

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AS Monaco

Random prediction: Alexis Sanchez will stay at the Emirates but will have a disappointing season. No-one in the Manchester United squad will be banned for more games than Jose Mourinho himself.

Is this the year Arsene Wenger finally wins back the Premier League title?

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town, West Bromwich Albion
Overachievers: Crystal Palace – Frank de Boer guides the Eagles to a nice finish alongside the big boys.
Underachievers: Tottenham Hotspur – The Wembley hoodoo comes for Spurs again.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United) – The Mexican is an absolute steal for what he’ll do on the pitch and pure highway robbery for what he’ll do for the club in the North American market.

FA Cup winners: Manchester City
League Cup winners: Everton

UEFA Champions League winner: Chelsea
UEFA Europa League winner: Celtic

Random prediction: My prediction that Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic would move to the Premier League didn’t come true in 2016-17 but he will crush it in Germany this season, becoming one of the darlings of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. That move to England will be a superstar signing come the summer of 2018.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s Premier League campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of Premier League signed products check out icons.com now!



Anatomy of An Icons Signing: Behind The Scenes With FOOTY.com

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Earlier this year we invited our friends from the football price comparison site FOOTY.com to come with us to a signing with one of the world’s best footballers. It just so happened that player was Barcelona‘s Argentinean superstar and global phenomenon Lionel Messi. From the FOOTY.com blog, here’s what Michael Lowdon thought of one our sessions with the world’s best…

As I drove down the A1 in torrential rain to FOOTY.com HQ, another wet day in the North East lay ahead. Or so I thought. By 10pm I was in Barcelona, enjoying a warm night, as the atmosphere of the UEFA Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid spilled out of the Nou Camp and onto the city’s streets. Our friends over at Icons.com had given us an invite to join them in the Catalan capital to get an insight into the workings of a player signing session. The player in question: Mr Lionel Messi.

Home of one of the best club sides in the history of the game, with arguably the greatest player to have kicked a football, the journey to the airport required regular pinching.

Being a frequent visitor to the Icons.com website, I was intrigued to see what goes on behind the scenes at a signing. After meeting Ali and Ben at Heathrow, the first task was to help with checking in of a number of packed suitcases, all of which were full to the brink with Messi memorabilia to be signed. From his latest adidas boot collection to a range of Barcelona and Argentina shirtsUEFA Champions League balls and glossy photo prints, the Icons team took a wide range of products ready for the Argentine’s penwork.

Once we had landed in Barcelona, the breathless Catalan commentary of the night’s match blared through the taxi’s radio, as we used our best broken Spanish to get the driver on our side. The hotel Icons put us up in was a stone’s throw away from the Camp Nou, meaning towards the end of journey the surrounding streets were filled with endless queues of mopeds, carrying relieved and joyous Cules late into the night. After more trolley pushing and the hotel bellboy’s help, we retired to the hotel bar, filled with the debate between fans. A quick night cap and a briefing for the next day’s signing rounded off a day which had started with a quiet, rainy morning in the office.

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FOOTY.com check out our signing photos – a key for authenticity

With signing day upon us, there was no time for a lie in and we were locked away in the hotel’s store room, preparing the cases and deciding what needed to be taken as a priority. It was the “less glamourous side of the signings” I was told, but as a Messi disciple and football merch geek I was like a pig in muck! Selections of football shirts and boots were asking to be jumped into and drooled over. Composed and professional, I managed to hide my excitement, just. As the deadline loomed, we met player liaison officer Jesus, Icons Founder Edward and CEO Dan outside of the Barcelona training ground and dissected Atleti’s defensive resilience, which would help them later progress to the semi final. Bumping into Pep’s superstar agent brother Pere Guardiola and a handful of other important figures, the team were escorted into the training centre to get the session underway.

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Messi is delighted to receive a shirt signed by fellow Icon Wayne Rooney

Having been signed to Icons for over a decade, making it one of his longest running commercial relationships, Messi knows what to expect when he’s faced with another Icons memorabilia signing session and he quickly got about his business. Icons exclusively produce the official Messi signed range as part of their license with the Argentine superstar. He breaks from the rhythm of signing to get his photo lifting a signed Wayne Rooney shirt that he’s received from the England captain, smiling with that grin we’ve come to recognise after more than 500 career goals.

The session draws to a close with Messi needed elsewhere – those five Ballon d’Ors won’t polish themselves you know. With yet another successful session in the bag, we retreat back to the hotel bar as the team celebrate. Messi is just one of a glittering list of current players which sign for Icons, including Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Aguero and many more. Not a bad forward line to have on your books! As the dust settles from the Messi signing, we relax with a meal in the shadow of La Sagrada Familia, unwinding as each Wolfsburg goal against Real Madrid raises a roar from the locals. We could get used to this!

Icons and FOOTY.com join the fans outside the Barcelona training ground

Icons and FOOTY.com join the fans outside the Barcelona training ground

It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for FOOTY.com, but for Icons it’s simply another day at the office. They’ll do it all again before long, as they met Eric Cantona in Lisbon and Gareth Bale in Madrid before April comes to end. The team also reveal which players are on their radar to sign next, what affects their choice and whether the enigmatic Ronaldinho is within their grasp.

From logistically planned trolley runs to preparing products for smoother signings, it’s all in a day’s work, in the crazy job that is chasing footballers around the world. As FOOTY.com has come to realise, there’s a story behind every signing. We can’t thank Icons enough for inviting us along to their private signing session with the most in demand footballer on the planet. The care and effort they put into organising every aspect of the signing, from their planning, unrivalled authenticity they strive for and their relationships with players is something to be inspired by.

FOOTY.COM is the UK’s leading price comparison when it comes to everything football. We specialise in searching the web to bring you the best prices and biggest savings on products from boots to balls and everything in between. Shop with FOOTY.COM to pay less and play more!

Shop from our full range of official Lionel Messi signed items here.

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How to buy a genuine Lionel Messi signed shirt: A guide to avoiding fakes & unofficial dealers

When searching through Ebay and around the web for a Lionel Messi signed shirt you will be presented with a wide range of items and sellers. Naturally, without the proper experience or research, there can be many potential pitfalls involved in buying signed football memorabilia. So, here are some handy tips to abide by…

The most obvious of which is to be sure of the authenticity of the item. Many sellers will tell you a player has genuinely signed their product. But how can you know for sure that you are not purchasing a fake or printed signature? The techniques used by fraudulent sellers can be very convincing and it is not always easy to identify a fake. So, when you buy a signed Lionel Messi shirt from Icons, we try to put your mind at ease by providing you with the following:

  • An Official Messi Signed Merchandise certificate – Icons is the only place you can buy officially licensed Lionel Messi signed memorabilia. All of our products are supplied with a hologrammed Certificate of Authenticity, which provides key information and shows a photo of Lionel Messi signing the item.
  • Photo proof – We are happy to provide a wide range of photos that clearly show Messi at a closed signing session arranged and conducted by Icons.
  • Video proof – Icons have a unique style of authentication video, which showcase both our products and our connection to the players who sign for us.
  • Signing date & location – We know exactly where and when our items were signed and we’re more than happy to disclose this information for the sake of authentication. All our items come from closed signing sessions, ensuring not only the authenticity but also the quality of each autograph.

When you are looking for Lionel Messi signed shirts online, you should use these points as a checklist from which to compare other sellers. If they can’t provide any of these things, ask yourself why not?

 

More information about Icons Shop Ltd

Icons Shop Ltd is the world’s leading football memorabilia company and Icons is the most trusted brand in the game. Authenticity is everything to us, as it is everything to our customers.

In 2014, Icons launched the first ever individually licensed memorabilia range: the Official Lionel Messi Signed Merchandise collection. We are the only company Lionel Messi and his management team trust to work with and the 2015-16 season marks the tenth year of Icons’ working-relationship with the Argentine superstar. In fact, we signed with him when he had just broken into the Barcelona first team, way back in 2006.

All Icons products come from private signing sessions in which the player is paid a fee for their service. We never, ever accost players outside the training grounds and we never, ever buy products from companies who do this. We deal directly with the players’ trusted representatives. Very often the players will donate the fees to either a charity of their choosing or a foundation to which they are directly associated. And because we have worked with the players and their agents for many years, they trust us and often personally recommend us to one another.

For all these reasons and more, you can rely on Icons as a trusted source for signed memorabilia, so if you’re looking for a Lionel Messi shirt that has been signed by the man himself, we suggest you look no further.

 

Click here to view all our officially licensed Lionel Messi signed memorabilia.

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



Why We Love Messi’s 300 La Liga Goals

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With the opening goal of FC Barcelona‘s 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday evening, Lionel Messi became the first player in the history of La Liga to reach 300 league goals. So, to celebrate Messi’s landmark achievement, the staff of icons.com have picked their favourite of Messi’s now 301 goals in the Spanish topflight.

But, with over 300 efforts to choose from, it’s inevitable that we would leave out a number of amazing goals. So, let us know if we’ve left out your favourite goal by getting in touch on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And don’t forget, we have a wide range of official Lionel Messi signed memorabilia available to buy on icons.com right now. So check it out and grab yourself a wonderful item from one of the greatest players in football history.


Goal Number 1 (vs Albacete, May 1st, 2005)

This is where it all began. Lionel Messi‘s very first goal for Barcelona was a classic. Sent clear by Ronaldinho, a 17-year-old Leo steadies himself, sizes up the onrushing goalkeeper and cooly lobs it into the back of the net to get off the mark in La Liga. Everything is perfect here, from Ronaldinho’s awesome dinked pass to the fact it seals the points for Barca in the dying seconds of a typical Camp Nou victory. Simply historic. – Alistair Hunter


Goal Number 78 (vs Real Zaragoza, March 21st, 2010)

Similar to his Copa del Rey goal against Getafe, this solo effort is just incredible. It’s a goal that reminded me of Diego Maradona’s against England because Messi has the ball for so long and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much skill and control in an individual effort. It’s also great because he shows tremendous strength to win the ball in the first place and then the quickness in his feet to take past that first opponent is magical. Superb stuff. – Edward Freedman


Goal Number 158 (vs Getafe, April 10th, 2012)

Has there ever been a midfielder-striker partnership as good as Andres Iniesta and Lionel MessiI think this goal, with the quality of the one-two between Andres and Leo, shows off what was and still is an incredible duo. The neat interplay between the two is amazing to watch, but then there’s the power of Messi’s finish. This is a goal of real style and class. – Ben Soley


Goal Number 276 (vs Almeria, April 8th, 2015)

If you rush to him, Messi dribbles past you. If you stay put, the Argentine magician does this. Defensively, there is not much more Almeria could do. But Messi makes top level footballers look like amateurs on a weekly basis. The nonchalance with which he impossibly bends the ball around well-placed defenders is something only one player on Earth could do. With a phenomenon like Messi you can’t really win. That’s why Messi is Messi and the rest just trail in his wake. – Jack O’Neill


Which of Messi’s La Liga goals is your favourite? Let us know by checking out this incredible video of all of his 301 La Liga goals.

Shop from our full range of official Lionel Messi signed items here.

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Memorabilia signed by Messi