Intro: best footie boots - it's all kicking off
The 2015-16 football/soccer season is now well underway, and predictably Crystal Palace, er, Leicester and, um, Swansea are leading the way. That can't be right, surely? We'll come back and edit that in a few weeks' time.
If you're a player as well as a fan, you've no doubt strapped on your boots and are tucking into some good, early-season mud baths. But if you're finding your 10-year-old Umbros from JD Sports are making you look slow and unwieldy, we have the solution: the best football boots to buy in 2015, whether you're a midfield general, tricky winger, 'fox in the box' striker or artisan back-line clogger. We don't have anything for goalies, because they're all 'mad'.
The options here range from solid, mid-range boots to wild flights of footwear tech fancy. Don't forget to carefully choose between the various options that most of them offer with, for instance, variants for hard and soft ground.
You should also probably be realistic about your skills. Having a boot that's super-light and offers next to no protection is not a great idea if you're not as fleet of foot as you once were. On the other hand, having a super-flash set of boots can give you added confidence and a better first touch, if you're not completely hopeless in the first place.
If you want our very best buying tip, delve further down this list for older boots from more obscure brands. Pele's Titan 3 boots originally went for about £200 a few years back but can now be had for around £60. And they're made by Pele!
Want to get in shape for a long season? Pound the pavements with our roundup of the best running shoes.
Adidas Messi 15.1
Lionel Messi might be out of this world but his new signature shoe is very much down to earth. Keeping the wearer grounded is the messiFRAME construction technology that features a locked in fit and exposed cage in the heel for maximum traction.
Having worked with Messi on the design, its no surprise that the boot really comes alive when you take it on your own approximation of one of the little magician’s jinking runs. This is down to a dynamic stud configuration, including a centre stud to support explosive speed in any direction, and a super-soft leather-like X-ray surface for that silky first touch – and every touch thereafter.
£160 | Adidas
Nike Tech Craft Tiempo Legend V
A classic old-school boot (well, old school by Nike’s aggressively future-looking standards), the Tiempo has existed in one form or another since 1985. It’s always offered control and comfort with dashes of tech innovation, and in its latest incarnation, that is the addition of Tech Craft leather.
Specifically designed to aid players’ first touch, Tech Craft is a thin layer of leather added to the ankle area of the boot to help with control in the high ball-contact areas.
Nike is so excited about Tech Craft that it’s rolled it out across its ranges, so as well as the Tiempo Legend V pictured here, the soft leather is also fused onto the different uppers of its more high-end Mercurial, Hypervenom and Magista (pictured below) boots (all at £260).
Precision-engineered machinery is used to prevent the leather from stiffening in the process while also integrating Nike All Conditions Control to provide enhanced ball control in both dry and wet conditions.
£150 | nike.com
New Balance Furon
Worn by speedy wingers Jesus Navas and Adnan Januzaj, the New Balance Furon is engineered for when you need to put the afterburners on. Made from New Balance’s lightweight Fantom Fit upper construction, the boot fuses a lightweight mesh upper with an ultra-thin supportive synthetic layer in the mid-foot area for more stability.
A stiffened sole plate gives increased energy return and unparalleled acceleration, while ultra directional studs further boost straight-line speed. Then when your pacey winger does get to the box or byline ahead of schedule, the boot’s Burrito Tongue gives him a large sweet spot from which to take aim with.
£130 | New Balance
Puma evoPOWER 1.2
The next-gen Puma evoPOWER is re-engineered with several new technologies to further liberate your natural shooting power. Working as a spine, the Gradual Stability Frame allows an anatomically engineered Pebax outsole to bend in harmony with the soft one-way stretchable microfibre AdapLite upper in similar fashion to a barefoot kicking motion.
While the non-stretchable external EverFit Cage is strategically placed mid-foot to maintain support without restricting the flexibility of the foot. A transparent 3D GripTex print is added to the upper for enhanced ball control in all conditions, with AccuFoam underneath to ensure an even pressure distribution and create a clean kicking surface for increased accuracy.
£75 | Puma
Lotto Zhero Gravity VII 200
Having broken ground with the first ever boots to feature a fully laceless design back in 2002, the Zhero Gravity VII represent a complete design overhaul as the first in the series to feature regular laces – making it work better with different foot shapes.
The new upper is made from a single-piece Kurim foot shell to ensure power and 360-degree ball control while the introduction of an elevated foot support and a shock-off heel insert work to quell force of impact. In addition, Lotto’s new Puntoflex system is included in the forefoot to provide better elastic return when running, helping you use power and energy efficiently.
£120 | Lotto Sport
Nike Hypervenom Phantom II
Built for firm, natural surfaces and designed for the modern striker, the Hypervenom II offers maximum agility and a barefoot-like touch. Flywire cables combined with the Tech Craft sock-like collar wrap the foot to create a supportive locked-down feel.
NikeSkin technology makes it easier to feel and control the ball while the Dynamic Fit collar enhances touch and control in the high ball-contact areas. There is a shortened lace area to allow for a larger strike zone and purer contact with the ball. And the split-toe plate and agility traction pattern deliver a quick response to help you find space when the defenders close in.
£230 | Nike
Under Armour Speedform
From a seamless heel cup, which eliminates any empty space in the boot for a more comfortable and customised fit, to a single-piece upper with articulated toe box where each toe can mould to the shape of the boot.
The boot of choice for Manchester United’s uncompromising new number 7 Memphis Depay, the shoe comes in two similarly uncompromising colour variations: emerald green with hi-vis yellow and striking blue with hot orange.
£150 | Under Armour
Puma evoSPEED SL
Weighing in at only 103 grams, the new Puma evoSPEED Superlight is Puma’s lightest football boot ever. With an ultra-thin textile upper that provides an almost barefoot touch on the ball, the boot is so specialised and delicate that it is designed for use on real grass and in fair weather only and in theory will give you just 10 games before it needs replacing.
Speed is the name of the game as the brand’s laser-cut SPEEDFRAME system harnesses the foot in key areas when accelerating and turning under heavy pressure, and the soleplate features a mixture of conical and bladed studs for instant traction and acceleration.
£180 | Puma
Mizuno Wave Ignitus 3
Mizuno's Wave Ignitus boots have a reputation for being innovative, and last year's eagerly anticipated third installment was no different.
Three different panels on the instep perform different functions: Mukaiten (‘non-spin’) creates an unpredictable flight pattern for the ball, and is designed to throw the keeper off; Tatekaiten (‘top-spin’) creates vicious amounts of dip; and Yokokaiten (‘side-spin’) gives players more controlled curl. They're lighter and more supportive than ever, and if you can find a pair, they're now available for next to nothing, due to the madness of Western capitalism. What's not to love?
Price: £60 | mizuno.eu
Adidas Adizero 99 Gram
First previewed ahead of the 2013 Champions League Final as a concept cleat, the world’s first ever match-legal sub-100g football boot finally hit the market earlier this year with only 299 pairs being released globally. The groundbreaking football shoe sits on a 1mm thick polyamide outsole and consists of a single-layer of woven polyester, combined with polyurethane to seal the boot.
Everything that could be stripped off to achieve the 99g weight has been, from a new stud-configuration to the removal of part of the heel. Making the shell-like, skeleton design less hefty than an iPhone 6, which weighs in at 129g.
Adidas Primeknit 2.0
Engineered for a natural feel, the second generation of the revolutionary Adidas Primeknit boot is the first ever to be knitted from heel to toe, and is comprised of a one-piece yarn-knit upper with an exaggerated techfit collar extending up the ankle to keep the foot in place. Sneaker style comfort is achieved by using an all-new compression tongue, which wraps around the mid-foot area for a lockdown effect.
An ultra-thin vacuum-coated skin is added for more durability and better ball control in wet conditions. It’s true comfort for the chosen few as, along with Luis Suarez’s pair, only 10,000 pairs were released globally as part of Adidas’ “Limited Collection” series.
Adidas Predator LZ
Built with the same SprintFrame chassis and SprintSkin upper as the ever-popular AdiZero F50 boot, the latest Preds take things a step further with the 'Lethal Zones' concept. Not unlike Mizuno's Wave Ignitus 3, different geometric rubber patterns around different areas of the boot give you extra power and control in the necessary areas and in all weather conditions.
Price: £50 | adidas.co.uk
Mizuno Morelia Neo
Most speed boots these days abandon leather for synthetics like micro-fibre. The Morelia Neo does no such thing, so if you're after a leather speed boot, you may have come to the right place. This is traditionally stitched and looks like you're average football boot, except that it weighs a meagre 170 grams. A thing of beauty.
Price: £90 | mizuno.eu
Warrior Skreamer II
Made of microfibers to give players an incredibly lightweight experience, the new softer and more supple S-Lite upper reduces weight and provides the Skreamer II with a glove-like fit for improved touch and more responsive control. Its major innovation is a ‘4D Arrowbed Insole’ that stimulates blood circulation inside the foot, helping you to maintain playing at your peak.
Price: £30 | Warrior
Joma Super Copa
This is the lightest boot ever made by Spanish boot-makers, to celebrate the history of the Spanish Super Copa. The upper is made of superlight 'Fibratec' micro-fibre, making this is a real contender to other speed boots like the Mercurial Vapor and Mizuno's Morelia Neo. Joma boots are still hand-made in Spain, and well respected despite being rarely seen on a professional pitch.
Price: £40 | joma-sport.com
Pele Sports Titan K-Leather Trinity 3E
Increasing performance whilst training foot muscles during a game, the kangaroo leather boots use the latest tanning technology to add ultimate protection and promote a glove-like fit. Solid State Lubrication (SSL) delivers increased levels of moisture movement and breathability while a military grade water repellent treatment will keep feet drier and warmer for longer which will be handy when the winter fixtures come around.
Price: £80 | www.pele-sports.com
Pantofola D’Oro Lazzarini
The chosen footwear for former Premier League stars Paolo Di Canio and Jurgen Klinsmann as well as a young Fabio Capello back in his playing days, the ‘golden slippers’ are made from calf leather to deliver ultimate comfort and flexibility. Crafted in exactly the same way as they were way back in 1986 when the business started up in Ascoli, Italy, they might not be packed with cutting-edge tech, but you are guaranteed to stroll onto the pitch looking like a millionaire footballer. Minus the pay cheque of course...
Price: £130 | Pantofoladoro.com