Mannheim’s newcomer Niklas “Willy” Sommer is a real eye-catcher – on the soccer field and next to it.
Niklas Wilson Sommer, or simply Willy as his fans call him, has been under contract with the third division soccer club SV Waldhof Mannheim since July of this year. But the 23-year-old right-back is almost more famous than on the field as a gamer and influencer on social media platforms. And that also has a remarkably positive effect on Waldhof merchandising. “The demand is currently very high in general. Names like Seegert and Schnatterer are also selling well. But the summer jersey is definitely the most popular,” said Waldhof press spokesman Yannik Barwig.
The jersey with the number 2 – sold out in the fan shop
If you click on “Get Willis Jersey Now” in the online fan shop, you will be disappointed: The home shirt is currently sold out. According to Barwig, there should be enough of them again by Christmas business – including summer flocking. Such a high demand for a player’s jerseys is usually only known from superstars like Lionel Messi. When his move to Paris St. Germain became known, jerseys worth over 20 million euros were sold within minutes.
A little star in her private life too
But Sommer is also attracting attention away from the field: as an online gamer. On platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, it streams live at Fifa and thus reaches hundreds of thousands of fans. This in turn also brings positive things to his club in the form of new young followers. Barwig says: “Through Willy we can reach the young fans and gain sympathy as a club”. The Instagram post when he signed the contract already received over 55,000 likes and around 10,000 new subscribers within 24 hours for SVW. But Niklas Sommer is not only an asset to the Mannheim team in terms of marketing: “Willy has also been a help as a player in the last few weeks. In other words, a transfer that has not only paid off on one level,” said Barwig.
An influencer who stayed on the ground
Streaming is a lot of fun for him, but in the end it’s just a hobby and football is his main goal, says Niklas Sommer. So far he has been able to show good performances in league and cup. And he also knows very well that he can still achieve a lot in sport: “Ultimately, I am responsible because my performance is the only thing that counts. And I can influence what I put on the field.” Sommer has a contract with the blue-blacks by 2023. His current market value is € 200,000 – if he can show similar success on the field as on social media, he should have a remarkable career ahead of him.