Indonesian Liga 1 club, Persib Bandung are cashing-in on replica jerseys of former Ghana and Chelsea star Michael Essien in an attempt to recoup the 800,000 euros they will repay him over the course of his one-year contract.
The Jakarta Globe reports that the recent signing of Essien, 34, has sparked a high demand in Persib jerseys.
Persib's loyal supporters, known as the Bobotoh, have been hunting for Essien's number five jersey — the same number he wore at Chelsea.
Persib merchandising executive Muhammad Irvan said the sales increased 10 percent after it was announced Essien would join the club.
"Shortly after Essien came in, supporters stood in long lines at our stores," Irvan said on the club's official website.
Football fans who hold Persib's member card have to pay around $18 to get an Essien jersey, while the regular price is $22.
A football merchandise seller makes Michael Essien's nameset amid a boom in demand for the Ghanaian's number five jersey. (Antara Photo/Agus Bebeng)
Essien, who once played for Spanish giants Real Madrid, will start training in late March and is the highest-paid player in Indonesia.
Essien, a former Ghana and Chelsea star who had won the UEFA Champions League, two Premier League titles and four FA Cups with Chelsea will receive a salary of $647,000 a year at his new club, breaking the record for a footballer's salary in Indonesia.
Reports indicate that the Ghanaian is paid by Persib about $200,000 less than in his previous club Panathinaikos of Greece.
"Some of you have known Essien's contract, he's now the highest-paid footballer in Indonesia," Persib team manager Umuh Muchtar said on Wednesday, March 15, as quoted by state-news agency Antara.
Previously, the highest-paid footballer in Indonesia was Sergio van Dijk, a former Australian top league player who earned $337,000, also at Persib.
Persib which is known for its blue jerseys, has been affiliated with some Indonesian tycoons, including Inter Milan president Erick Thohir and Salim Group, a company owned by the country's second richest man, Anthoni Salim.