Image: AC Momento
The rise of game-worn memorabilia collecting has been well documented this year by our team at Altan Insights and elsewhere. Similarly, the rise of soccer collecting has been well documented over the last several years. Now, we’ve learned of an intriguing new offering at the intersection of those two trends.
In a space that can be plagued by questionable authenticity and provenance, AC Momento aims to close the gap between player and collector, via both auctions and collections. The AC Momento app will host live auctions during matches, where users can bid on shirts being worn on the pitch at that very moment. At the conclusion, AC Momento secures the shirt for authentication and storage. A digital certificate of authenticity is issued to the winning bidder, who can have the shirt shipped to the location of their choosing.
Worth noting: only shirts from the first half of matches will be auctioned, leaving room for giveaways and the sacred shirt-swap post-match. Yes, this is a bummer, but the optics of preventing players from giving shirts away to kids at the end of the match because they have to be sold to the highest bidder....not great at all, for the app, the partner clubs, or the players. This may limit the amount of jerseys that rise to the status of blue-chip grail, and with significant supply, many or most of the shirts sold may not be considered “investment grade”. Additionally, serious collectors and speculators alike may seek more clarity on the chain-of-possession and authentication.
Still, the process undoubtedly brings an engaging new wrinkle to both memorabilia auctions and the match-watching experience. Imagine a pivotal goal in a title race, scored by a rising phenom? Or a debut goal? What does that do to bidding? At the very least, the concept has the potential to introduce game-worn collecting to a passionate soccer - er, football (sorry Jesse Marsch) - audience, and to bring authentic keepsakes into the possession of fans.
The other component of the business revolves around the cataloging of a player’s collection of match-worn memorabilia (including swapped jerseys), with the ability to submit private bids -that's where some blue-chip assets could reside. But today, we’re interested in the auction component. With four partner clubs at launch (AC Milan, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, and Benfica), all of which are set to play in the coming days, we take a look at the players’ jerseys that could make waves at auction this season. This isn't investment advice or a prediction of which player's memorabilia will fare best long term, rather these are the names that we think will be most interesting to watch as the bidding commences.
Fresh off winning its first Scudetto since 2011, AC Milan is poised to reassert its heavyweight status in Europe, despite the waning power of Serie A relative to other, more commercially successful leagues. The club is stacked with talent, both in terms of players in their prime years and those on the rise.
Hernandez is Milan’s vice captain and arguably the club’s best and most talented player. While a left back would not traditionally make the most compelling target for memorabilia, left backs are generally not made as electrifying as Hernandez. Theo also figures to be a factor for France at the World Cup - les bleus are of course the reigning champions and a threat to vie for the title once again.
If you’re looking for the more traditional, goalscoring pick, Rafael Leao is the one to watch, both for now and for the future. Just 23 years old, Leao enjoyed a breakout season in Milan’s title campaign, scoring 14 goals in all appearances from the wing. He also chipped in 10 assists in Serie A, earning the MVP Award in that competition. Now, Leao is the subject of transfer speculation, finding himself squarely in the crosshairs of Premier League giant, Chelsea. Should he stay, he will surely be one of the most targeted jerseys in the fold at AC Memento, and a move to an even bigger stage (Real Madrid?) could beckon. Of course, should he move this summer, all of this is rendered moot.
The 30 million Euro man, de Ketelaere was Milan’s biggest signing of the summer. The 6’4 Belgian is known to be an incredibly versatile player, capable of operating as an attacking midfielder or across the front line. CdK has previously played in relative obscurity at Club Brugge in Belgium, so the move to Milan represents a considerable increase in exposure. At just 21 years old, there could be a bright future ahead, both for club and country. De Ketelaere will very likely represent a competitive Belgium squad in Qatar.
That’s right, not even writing his last name. You know who I’m talking about. A man that needs no introduction.
The prolific striker underwent knee surgery in May, with an expected recovery timetable of eight months. Months later, he inked a one year extension with Milan. While it seems Zlatan is set to operate on a season-to-season basis, when he returns around midseason, we could be watching the final matches of a truly one-of-a-kind legend. And when he does return, he instantly becomes the most renowned and important player from a collecting perspective in the entire pool. Whether he has a pivotal role or not (chances are he will, because he’s Zlatan), those auctions will be interesting to watch.
After finishing 4th in La Liga last year, Sevilla will embark on a Champions League campaign this season, while also battling to be amongst the top teams in Spain once again. Should they be knocked out of the Champions League, chances are they’ll compete ferociously for the Europa League title, which they’ve won a staggering six times.
The stellar Croatian midfielder is in the twilight of his career, aged 34. While not quite on the level of countryman and Real Madrid midfielder, Luka Modric, Rakitic has enjoyed an incredibly successful tenure in Spain, amassing four La Liga titles, one Champions League, one Europa League, and countless Spanish domestic cups. Much of that success came during his time with Barcelona, but as vice captain of this Sevilla squad, he’ll be eager to secure more silverware for a club that holds him in the highest regard.
Isco is intriguing for one reason: he has spent his entire career, with the exception of some loan spells, at Real Madrid. Obviously, getting into the XI at Madrid is about as difficult as anywhere on the footballing planet. As a result, it’s somewhat unclear just how good Isco is, but undoubtedly, he will have chances to provide the answer in the season ahead. Is there a reason he was so unable to find consistent minutes, or was he simply not allowed to shine amongst Galacticos?
This is a pretty major copout, as En-Nesyri is 25 years old, but Sevilla isn’t exactly loaded with young talent, like at all. En-Nesyri does represent a risk-infused, potential upside play, as injuries curtailed his 2021-22 production after a 2020-21 campaign that saw him score 18 goals in 38 La Liga appearances. If he can rediscover his goalscoring form, he could generate interest. Rafa Mir would be a slightly younger striking option to consider as well.
If you desperately wanted youth, you'd probably need to look to center back Tanguy Nianzou, who just recently joined the club from Bayern Munich. While the Frenchman looks promising and will be relied upon to replace the departed Jules Kounde, center back is not the most attractive position for collectors...unless he can grow to transcend the position like a Sergio Ramos.
The third most successful club in Spain, Atletico Madrid is perennially competitive in the Champions League and in La Liga under fiery manager, Diego Simeone. While the club generally doesn’t boast quite the same level of starpower as Barcelona or Madrid, the squad is typically very well stocked, and that’s the case again this season.
Our first goalkeeper! And it’s a fitting choice. Oblak has consistently been one of the very best keepers in the world for several years running. He’s still just 29, leaving plenty of strong years ahead. At his best, Oblak is a brick wall, capable of keeping Atleti in matches against surging opposition. Put simply, he’s the best player on the team.
Felix is both one for now and for the future, aged just 22. The Portuguese attacker joined the club from Benfica in 2019 for a staggering sum of 126 million Euros. While returns thus far have been mixed, Felix has shown signs of becoming more comfortable, and his talent is obvious. Whether his best seasons lie ahead of him at Atleti or elsewhere is up for debate, but he’s surely one of the more commercially interesting players in the squad list.
Cunha is actually older than Felix, but hasn’t yet emerged to quite the same degree. With 12 goal contributions last season though, he may be ready for a higher volume of opportunity, particularly with Luis Suarez no longer in the squad. His talents have been sufficiently impressive to generate transfer links with Manchester United, and we may see him in Brazil’s World Cup ranks. Most of Atletico's bright, younger talents are out on loan.
The Frenchman is likely one of the most famous players suiting up for Atleti, and he enjoyed tremendous success for the club before his failed move to Barcelona. His return season was not stellar, and there’s reason to believe his production could be further curbed in 2022. In order to avoid triggering a mandatory purchase clause, which would see them pay Barcelona 40 million for his permanent transfer, Atletico may seek to limit the number of games in which Griezmann plays more than 45 minutes. This effort would relegate Griezmann to appearances off the bench, which would also mean few first half appearances and therefore few jerseys up for auction. Perhaps that makes games in which he is a starter a bit more interesting.
A Portuguese factory for incredible youth talents, Benfica is a consistent competitor in the Portuguese league and a frequent participant in Champions League competition. The list of players who have established themselves at Benfica, only to seal big money moves elsewhere is long, including the likes of Joao Felix and new Liverpool signee Darwin Nunez. While there are some strong established players in the squad, the focus here is undoubtedly on future superstars.
Following the departure of Nunez, Benfica will look to Goncalo Ramos to increase his goalscoring output and become next in the assembly line of attacking talent. This time around though, other clubs are examining the possibility of pre-empting that breakout, with transfer speculation surrounding the player as we approach the end of the window. Losing both Nunez and Ramos in one summer may be too bitter a pill for Benfica, especially after Ramos carried the team through Champions League qualifying, with 4 goals in 4 appearances. If he stays put, there’s little doubt he’ll be one of the most compelling auction targets.
Benfica shrewdly reinvested their Nunez windfall on Argentine midfielder, Enzo Fernandez. Fernandez previously played for powerhouse River Plate in Argentina, where he scored 8 goals and provided 6 assists in his first season as a starter. He is considered one of Argentina’s best young talents and seems likely to be a fixture of midfields in Europe for many years to come. The question is less how he'll play for Benfica and more where he'll go next, and how he'll perform there?
A product of the Benfica youth academy, Araujo looks to be next in line behind Nunez and Ramos. After playing and impressing for the B team and for youth teams in recent years, this will be the season that sees Araujo entrench himself in the first team. He hasn’t yet scored his debut goal in the Portuguese league. If that happens in the first half of a game, the auction could get very interesting. We are left to wonder, though, if the jersey from such an occasion might ultimately escape AC Momento’s reach.
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