80 OVR, 90 POT
Adidas has never truly dominated the speed boot market since the release of the original adiZero. Apart from the astonishing weight of the boot, the soleplate made the boot stand out among the crowd. In an attempt to replicate the success of that boot, adidas has gone back to the drawing board and came up with the X Ghosted. While some of the tech that adidas has come up with for the X would seem like something that Nike would be more likely to create, especially the use of carbon fibre, the X Ghosted shows that adidas have given themselves a possible platform to dominate again.
Fit and Feel
This is probably the biggest difference between the X Ghosted and the X 18/19. The upper is stiffer out of the box and offers a snugger fit. Whereas the previous two models of the X was “The People’s Speedboot”, the X Ghosted has given that title up in order to make a more lively speed boot. In some ways this is a great thing as I have argued previously that brands should do more with synthetic uppers. What it also means that the upper has a very thin touch on the ball. The flip side of this is that previously mentioned tightness, which while good for me, making the better a bit more accommodating would have been nice. The X Ghosted also shouldn’t be a go to for anybody with a wider foot.
Since the X is a speed boot, you might expect the lockdown to be excellent once you tie up the laces While there is definitely decent lockdown there, I personally feel the that the lockdown on the Morelia Neo 3 Beta Japan is better. There is some of that “Vacuum” fit there but I wanted a bit more. It’s understandable why adidas didn’t make the lockdown more solid with the X Ghosted, as the design doesn’t necessarily allow for it since it is a one piece upper. It could also be assumed that because the boot fits so tight in general, adidas might have believed that it didn’t need as much lockdown to be added with the laces. Then again, given that the X Ghosted+ was mostly likely designed first, it might have been just an afterthought. Switching to a floating tongue might actually allow for better lockdown, as well as allowing people to adjust the fit.
Even though my feet aren’t wide, I was initially feeling cramped in the X Ghosted. This obviously improved after a few sessions in the boots, but I was hoping it was a softer out of the box. The FLUROSKIN upper isn’t super stiff or anything and many people could rightly point out that since I test mostly leather boots, I have a bias. It did in some ways remind me of what a modern Vapor might feel like in an alternative universe, but I was hoping adidas took more inspiration from the brilliant HybridTouch, or at the very least the X-ray upper from the second model of the Messi 15.1. Instead we seem to have an upper that seemed to ignore adi’s previous history of great synthetic uppers. However, a positive of the upper meant that the foot mostly stays in place and I didn’t feel the upper give way when cutting or running.
The upper isn’t the only place where I had a few issues. Although the heel has some quite big padding, I found them to be a little too stiff for my liking. Again, I know why adidas did this as softer padding wouldn’t lock in the heel as well. But maybe they could have kept the upper portion the way it is now and made the lower part softer. Then there wouldn’t be as much pressure on the heels that way either.
Unlike a lot of other reviewers, I stayed true to size. The caveat to this is I have been the same size in almost every adi boot ever released. If you get a chance, try them on before you buy.
Touch and Dribbling
Given that the X Ghosted has a thin, synthetic upper it does mean you get a super thin and close to the ball touch. The way the FLUROSKIN felt when trapping the ball reminded me a lot of the Vapors that had a Teijin-synthetic upper from years past. You will always be aware that you are wearing a speed boot with a synthetic upper, but this also means that there is nothing in the way of you and the ball. No padding, no grip zones, nothing. The upper is smoother than other boots on the market and some have suggested this is something you need to get used to however, I never had any issues with controlling the in spite of the fact adi didn’t make the upper rougher, as has been the norm with a lot of recent boots.
The smooth FLUROSKIN upper this also means that dribbling in the X Ghosted has zero distractions and the ball glides on your foot while running at speed. There weren’t any issues while I dribbled with the ball, I did find myself wishing that the upper was rougher and grippier to the touch. Again, part of this wish should probably be attributed to my history with leather boots, but I think the point should still stand.
As the upper is somewhat a return to an older style synthetic, though vastly updated to the modern game, it does mean that I did also wish for just a little bit of cushioning in the upper to allow for some dampening while dribbling with the ball. Maybe I’m too accustomed to leather uppers, but I like having that padded sensation.
Passing and Shooting
Again, the thin synthetic upper means you get that pingy feel that only a synthetic can provide. Long passes, short passes, crossfield balls, in every situation you will feel the ball directly on your foot. The upper being a uniform material does help in this case because there is a unison that is achieved when passing or receiving the ball. In other words, no surprises. The FLUROSKIN is there in a minimalistic way as possible.
Many players will be pleased to hear this as there are surprisingly not a lot of boots on the market like this. Part of the reason for this is because of the dominance of knit on the market and also because a lot of synthetic boots tend to have other gimmicks on the upper.
Interesting to note here is that although the forefoot is raised slightly to mimic a sprint spike, I didn’t notice in the same way as some reviewers, like JayMike of Unisport, did. He mentioned in his review that he got used to shooting with the boots quite quickly, I didn’t really notice anything at all. Everything felt normal from the beginning.
For this reason, shooting felt exactly how I expected in the X Ghosted: thin and pingy. And you will feel it all when you hammer a shot. Again, great for some but not exactly my cup of tea. The upper does mean that it can feel a little bit firm during your first few sessions with the boots, but it won’t really bother you much after that. It was quite nice to absolutely smash the ball in these, since the thin upper gives you instant feedback, but again, I like having at least a little bit of cushioning. Since there are no gimmicks on the upper, the shoe won’t affect your technique. It’s all on you.
As many of you may have guess if you’ve read my previous article about the soleplate, or watched/listened to any other reviews, the soleplate is absolutely top notch. There is tons of grip, tons of springback and almost no drag to speak of.
The CARBITEX SpeedFrame does its job impressively. From the first time going to run in these and onwards it has a noticeable impact on your running. The way adidas has executed the use of carbon fibre is extremely clever and is hands down the best implementation of the material in football boots, ever. You can feel the immediate pushback from the carbon fibre as soon as you flex your feet. It’s instant, responsive and explosive. The way the claw-shaped carbon fibre is place on the underside of the foot means its activates when your foot does. It’s a clever way to use carbon fibre, instead of having it there for looks or to save weight. Giving it a reason to exist on the boot means its something to look out for and makes it worth having.
Having the slight curve of the soleplate also plays its role well by allowing you to have a better push off from push off. In spite of the pronounced curve, it doesn’t feel awkward and is quite natural. It can be argued that the carbon fibre wouldn’t work as well without the curved toe, so the combination of the two provides for excellent performance.
The studs themselves are also very solid and I especially like the inclusion of vertical studs along with the more triangular studs because it means you get support and grip when cutting and jutting across the pitch. “Agility” is the word that comes to mind.
And the soleplate’s performance means that the boot feels fun to run and play in. I’m not sure how much I can put into words that I like this soleplate. It feels like it should be on more boots. Heck, if I could slap this soleplate on the Beta Japan, I’d be in heaven. I could almost go as far as to say that it might be among the best speed boot soleplates ever made. A big statement, but I feel the performance of the CARBITEX SpeedFrame backs this up.
Also, DO NOT WEAR THE FG ON AG. I know its tempting since the AG plate doesn’t have the CARBITEX SpeedFrame, but don’t do it.
The Elephant in the (Boot) Room
Going into this review I kept telling myself to alter my expectations because I almost always review high quality leather boots and going to a synthetic speed boot will be a different experience and require different expectations. There is some truth to this statement but at the same time, nothing exists in a vacuum. The X Ghosted is on sale in the same market as something like the Neo Beta Japan or the Puma Ultra. Both different boots to the X but at the same time, there’s a chance that someone might be considering whether to go with one of those or the X Ghosted. It’s hard to justify what choice is best because at the end of the day it comes down to personal preference.
The X Ghosted is a boot that has a lot of great things going for it: the excellent soleplate, return to a synthetic upper and tight fit can be positives for a lot of people. At the same time I found myself wanting more. Like a young prospect in FIFA, there is a lot of potential with the X Ghosted series. If the upper becomes a little more accommodating and softer, as well giving us more lockdown and adjustability, I think adidas could possibly take the fight to Nike.
At the very least, adidas have given themselves a chance to do so and hopefully we will see them turn the X Ghosted into a world beater. The soleplate is already at that level, hopefully the rest of the boot will be in future releases as well.
What are your thoughts on the X Ghosted? Please share this with your friends and make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!