With Adidas gone, will Virat Kohli sign up with Puma?

Virat Kohli ODI Indian Express

Are Virat Kohli and Puma close to signing a deal?

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and Puma could be looking to begin a new innings together. With Kohli’s Adidas deal having expired last month and Puma’s deal with Yuvraj Singh reportedly not renewed, the stage appears to be set for the two.

With 16 brands in his portfolio, Kohli is the biggest name in the sports endorsement market and his cricket gear, barring the bat which has the MRF logo, is up for grabs. His performance on the cricket field is making him the hottest property in India’s brand endorsement market.

The turn of events may have something to do with the speculation. While Kohli’s three-year association with Adidas ended last December, Puma’s partnership with another icon Yuvraj Singh has also reportedly ended. Adidas has made a formal statement to that effect but Puma has not made any announcement. While the two events may not be linked, Puma may want to add wings to its brands in India if it can sign up with Kohli.

But getting the Indian captain to endorse its brands may not come cheap. Kohli’s deal with Adidas, reportedly at Rs. 10 crore (approximately $1.5 million) a year had been inked when he was still a rising star. Now at the prime of his career and appointed the captain of the team across all formats, the asking price may have gone up a few notches.

Credit: Yuvraj Singh (Deccan Chronicle); Virat Kohli (Indian Express)

The Puma logo is now missing from Yuvraj’s bat, suggesting that the deal may have finally been called off. Kohli reportedly fetches Rs. 8 crore (approximately $1.2 million) for sporting the MRF logo on his bat, which is the highest for any cricketer in the country. It is also double the amount that Puma was apparently paying Yuvraj.

Bunty Sajdeh, Managing Director at Cornerstone Sports & Entertainment has dismissed the reports of Puma signing up with Kohli, calling it speculative. Despite what his manager may have to say, the possibility of getting the brand endorsed by the hottest sportsperson in the country is not an opportunity many companies may want to let go of.