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No. 10 - Zlatan Ibrahimovic x Nike Vapor IX
PSG & Sweden
The unique thing about Ibrahimovich is the fact that he is so tall yet possesses tremendous footwork. His trickery on the ground matches some of the best players in the work, yet his height and strength creates so much in the air. Plus, wherever he goes, Ibra seems to win!
And what makes things even more unusual is his decision to wear speed boots, in the form of the Vapor series. Right now he is wearing the Nike Vapor IX and for all purposes, they seem to suit his style tremendously well. He has a flair for the spectacular, ala that goal vs England, and since he gets to wear bold colors in the Vapor series, I’m sure he has no intentions of changing brands!
No. 9 - Neymar x Nike Hypervenom Phantom
Barcelona & Brazil
With the signature of Neymar, Barcelona is going to be an extremely formidable attacking team next year - not they weren’t already! Can you imagine looking at a team sheet and seeing names like Messi, Neymar, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago……It is going to be exciting to watch.
On release, the Hypervenom Phantom was introduced by Neymar. It all took place at a star studded event in Brazil and Neymar was the very first to introduce the range. There are several aspects of this boot that really seem to match up to the requirements of a player like Neymar. He is fast and extremely crafty on the ball, full of tricks. The type of boots you would expect him to wear would be light, yet feature some sort of added protection for the crunching tackles he is regularly on the end of. The Hypervenom Phantom weigh in at 7.0oz and feature a honeycomb paneling across the entire boot. This paneling might not be a direct protection aid, but since there is dimension to it, you get a slight edge when studs make contact with the surface. I expect Neymar to sit far higher on a list like this in the next 6 months – but first he has to prove himself in a top European league.
No. 8 - Wayne Rooney x Nike Hypervenom Phantom
Manchester United & England
Strong, physical, great footwork, able to score in the air – Rooney seems to be one of the most natural forwards there is in the modern game. He knows how to score goals and you will often see him making runs back into his own half to win the ball back.
Rooney was another one of those players featured through the release campaign of the new Hypervenom. Better yet, he was the first player to score in a pair. And to cap it all off, the goal came against Brazil, for which Neymar was playing. Rooney is one of those players that should be disappointed about the retirement of the T90 Laser silo. They were a boot that really suited his strong and physical play. He also has an ability to play as an attacking mid and his distribution at times is breathtaking. The T90 Laser seemed to perform in unison with him. In saying that, he did score that scorcher versus Brazil and I am interested in seeing how the new range meshes with Rooney over the next few months.
No. 7 - Mario Mandzukic x Nike Vapor IX
Bayern Munich & Croatia
When a player manages to keep Mario Gomez out of the side, and a European Champions side at that, then he deserves to be named one of the best players in the world! Many wondered if Mandzukic would settle at Bayern after his high profile move from Wolfsburg, yet he has done so with ease and with a bunch of goals to his name including the first in the Champions League final.
Mandzukic is known for his unselfish play, he works hard off the ball and often puts his ability to defend to work as effectively as scoring goals. Because of all that, some might be surprised to hear that he wears the Nike Vapor IX. The two other prolific strikers on this list that wear the Vapor IX are Ronaldo and Ibrahimovich. They both entertain a completely different style of play to Mandzukic, which shows that the Vapor IX actually has a more flexible set of characteristics than you expect. They seem to be an effective weapon for those moments when defending is a necessity.
No. 6 - Radamel Falcao x Puma evoSPEED 1.2
Monaco & Columbia
Falcao is one of a select number of strikers currently in the game with the ability to be named in the same breath as Lionel Messi – yet he has just signed for French side Monaco. It is an odd move for a player who could have made his name as a leader with pretty much any of the top European teams. He is a deadly finisher, who I hope doesn’t receive less attention because he will be playing for a club where there is no taxes on salary!
Seen to be one of the lead players in Puma’s portfolio right now, Falcao is currently wearing the evoSPEED 1.2 range. The evoSPEED is a boot designed for pure speed and acceleration. Everything about the boot screams “let me score goals”. They are the one boot Puma has that really seems to compliment Falcao and he style of play really gives more credibility to the evoSPEED being a top strikers boot. Last week, we were even treated to the release of an exclusive, limited edition pair of Puma x Hublot boots - you just need $15,000 to afford a pair (it comes with a watch!).
No. 5 - Luis Suarez x Adidas F50 adiZero
Liverpool & Uruguay
Even though he is one of the most controversial strikers on this planet, Suarez is also one of the most deadly and he stands as the player that people love to hate. I am personally not a fan of his unnecessary and sometime downright stupid actions, but is there a more passionate player to watch? He has speed, bags of skill and an extreme knack for scoring goals at unexpected times. You have to respect that side of his game.
Another player that is part of the F50 adiZero family, Suarez has regularly made the boots look extraordinary in play. Whether it is through a blistering change of pace or an exquisite piece of finishing, he provides a different outlook for the range. At times, he seems to be wearing a more universal boot that offers multiple positional traits, yet we are familiar with the F50 range primarily being a speed boot. Now, if he could only stay out of trouble, I’m sure he could make the boots look even more special by taking awards like the EPL Golden boot (basically lost because of his suspensions this season!)
No. 4 - Robert Lewandowski x Nike T90 Laser IV
Borussia Dortmund & Poland
Lewandowski is currently regarded as being one of the best up and coming strikers in the world, backed up by his amazing 4 goal performance vs Real Madrid in this seasons Champions League semi-final. That performance really catapulted a player sought after by some of the top clubs in Europe to a new level. Although not Ibrahimovich tall, he is still big and strong with fantastic ability to do some magical things with the ball at his feet.
On those feet, Lewandowski currently wears the Nike T90 Laser IV. Although they have been replaced by the Hypervenom range, the T90 Laser still has a cult following and several players are yet to make a switch from the range. Lewandowski is one of these players and we still await his next boot decision. In terms of his style, the T90 Laser seems like the perfect fit. They offer the ability to get some extra power on shots while offering taller players cushioning across the upper to take in long passes and balls over the top. I’m pretty sure he will move to the Hypervenom Phantom next, but it does seem a little disappointing seeing as the T90 Laser offers more suitable performance!
No. 3 - Robin Van Persie x Adidas F50 adiZero
Manchester United & Netherlands
What a magnificent season RVP had, capped by his magnificent 40 yard volley on the run vs Aston Villa. Many wondered how the Dutchman would handle the change from Arsenal to Manchester United, but he did it delightfully and with style, guiding MUFC to the league title while also picking up the Golden Boot award.
Over the past 2 seasons, RVP has continually worn the Adidas Predator adiPower. This has caused plenty of curiosity with many fans wondering why he didn’t move up to the current Predator Lethal Zone silo. He is one of a very limited number of players to wear one range for an extended period. But, over the past few weeks and on international duty with Holland, it seems like RVP has finally made a switch to the Adidas F50 adiZero range. There had been unconfirmed reports that he was going to switch to the Nitrocharge, but it seems like the lightweight speed boot has won out. Although the F50 seems like the right style of boot for his game, I feel like RVP benefits from the added technology along the strike zone of his boot and you don't get that with the F50. It will be interesting to see how he progresses with the change over time.
No. 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo x Nike Vapor IX
Real Madrid & Portugal
Many would argue that Ronaldo deserves the top spot on this list and he might actually own it if he didn’t play in the same league as the magnificent Messi. He has been a favorite of Nike for several years now and he leads the line for the Vapor range. I don't really need to talka bout the guy to much, he is a lethal finisher and possesses pretty much every attribute you would want in a player.
Currently, he is sporting a pair of standard Vapor IX boots, but Nike hasn’t been a stranger in producing unique and exclusive boots just for the Portuguese playmaker. Each design features wild colors and really plays to Ronaldo’s high energy style. We often see CR7 as being an arrogant player, but he is far from it and all too often he lets his game show the doubters what he is all about. The Vapor itself really suits his style, with the lightweight boots offering him no-nonsense acceleration when needed.
No. 1 - Lionel Messi x Adidas F50 adiZero
Barcelona & Argentina
With 4 World Player of the Year awards in a row, Messi undoubtedly deserves the top spot on this list. In 2012, he scored an absolutely astonishing 91 goals for the year, a record that is sure to stand for long, long time. Many people compare Messi to his compatriot Diego Maradona due to their similar statures and playing style. If you have ever watched him play, you will know he has this extraordinary ability of shifting his body and evading players with sharp, quick movements.
Messi is the poster boy for Adidas soccer and the F50 adiZero is his boot of choice. Adidas has actually stated that when they work on developing new versions of the F50 speedboot, Messi’s style is largely in the forefront of their development. It makes sense and the boots make-up provides any attacking player with a product designed for fast paced action on quick feet movement. Even if you put Messi in a pair of clogs he would still be one of the most lethal strikers in the world, but having the F50 on his feel makes things a little more natural for him!