Give us the options at least
Over the years we have repeatedly seen the lengths that brands go to in order to appease the players under contract with them. Messi, Van Persie, Honda and Sterling are all great examples of this. From Messi’s F30/F50 Hybrid during the days of the TUNiTs to the fact he still was provided boots with leather uppers when they were not available to the everyday customer, and even now he still uses his signature soleplate even though adidas has phased it out in retail. He even still uses a burrito tongue that adidas only used on the Messi 16.1s. Honda had his custom soleplate on the Wave Ignitus series until the 3rd iteration when he finally started using the retail model. Van Persie probably had some of the most memoriable custom F50 adiZeros, which had an adiPower solplate.
The most obvious thing that could be offered to customers is the ability to have an older soleplate on newer boots. It’s telling that Raheem Sterling, one of the fastest players in the Premier League, uses the soleplate from older models of the Tiempo Legends. He’s not the only player to do this. Busquets also uses the same soleplate. When Iniesta was still with Nike, he did the same. There seems to be a number of sponsored players who do this. Which makes me wonder why Nike phased out the soleplate when even over 10 years after it’s been released, it’s still so popular. Since making a new molding is so expensive, surely it’s in the brand’s best interests to keep using older soleplates.
It may not be seen as “innovative” but there’s no reason to constantly re-invent the wheel every time there is a new boot. Adidas used to catch some flak for the fact that their TRX FG soleplate was used on so many boots for so long, with few alterations, but it was popular and worked for almost every boot to the point that even the adiPower’s soleplate wasn’t all that different from the original design. I’d argue that even in today’s game it could perform well. Another popular soleplate among professionals is Nike’s Versatract soleplate, which originally debuted in 2000 with the launch of the first Air Zoom Total 90s. It’s not as common to see among pros as it once was, but even former Japan international Marcus Tulio Tanaka was wearing a modified Legend with that soleplate this past season. As for Keisuke Honda, at least with the launch of the Wave Ignitus 2s at least some colourways were offered with his custom upper and soleplate. Though, they weren’t offered outside of Asia and even then, it was only easy to get a pair in Japan.
The fact so many players use custom uppers is telling, as well. If players aren’t wanting to have a lot of gimmicks on the uppers of the boots, why should we? This is something that isn’t as common as it used to be but at the same time its still common enough to make me wonder why brands feel the need to over-indulge themselves on gimmicks and the like.
Now, many of these issues are only commonly known among the boot geek community. Many of the people who buy boots might only be vaguely aware of the big differences between the boots sold at retail and the ones that end up in player’s hands. It’s because of this that some could argue that this is a non-issue, but the fact that making such large changes to the boots is common among pros makes it an issue. You would think it is in the best interest of brands to use older soleplates and other older tech on boots in order to save money. They may have some criticism for doing this, but this can be overcome if brands lower the prices on their boots when they use older tech. After all, there is a large amount of mark-up involved before the boots even reach the retailers. By using older, more established pieces in a newer product they won’t have to charge as much. Alternatively, they would probably just continue to fleece customers by calling boots with older tech the “professional’s choice” or some bollocks like that. I think I know which one they would probably choose.
Still, if they insist on constantly adding new gimmicks, the least the brands could do is not raise the prices so high.
Thoughts? Do you think we should have access to the some of the same options as the pros? Share this with your friends and please make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!