A large, aluminum box showed up at my door the other day. It was free of any markings, save for the large word "MESSI" across the top in a subtle, frosted effect with the superstar's logo on top of that, front and center. Opening up the top flap, you're greeted by another aluminum panel, this time with a smaller panel that begs you to pick it up and open it.
You lift the small cover and a video starts playing on a small LCD screen, surrounded by more aluminum with the Messi way of playing soccer (football) above it. The video, below, immerses you in the Messi experience. After all, it's as much about the player's morals and drive as it is about their style. The video, fast-paced like Lionel Messi himself, has an upbeat background track and plays in its entirety. After the video is over, it starts up again but that's alright. You now know to close the flap over the screen, put it back in its correct place, and lift the next aluminum panel. Then, like the suitcase in Pulp Fiction, the case seems to glow gold and you behold the work of art within.
Faux-turf lines the case's interior with foam underneath, protecting the contents. There are six cut-outs in the foam, one for each boot and four housing miniature replicas of the Ballon d'Or, one for each of the four consecutive years that Lionel Messi won the award. While those relatiely heavy miniatures were a nice added bonus to drive the point home, they were not the showpiece. That title was saved for the Messi-special adidas F50 adizero.
This is the boot that (arguably) the world's best player has worn for the last five games, donning them for club and country alike while scoring six goals in the process.
Their design is, in a word, stunning. A very stark white colorway that overwhelms the outsole and much of the upper sharply cuts a deep red at the inner set of laces. Messi's logo, the same one that adorned the front of the aluminum case, features prominently on the tongue while a thin, red stroke that breaks for the word "MESSI" accents the outside heal.
That red/crimson color (it's impossible to pick one because it's both) is so much more than that. The varying shades of red come in streaks, creating the illusion of depth, the "feeling" of speed, and evoking the image of muscle fibers. Those elements combine for the perception of strength.
In terms of technology, it's as-you-were for the adizero F50 Messi. They are as light as ever, coming in at the same weight as any of the other current generation F50s and still feature all of the incredible innovations that made the first iteration of the F50 adizero III so good.
The sprintframe outsole feels rigid and connected while maintaining its incredible light weight. The boot is flexible in your hands but once you get it on your feet and start moving around, you notice the connectedness to the ground as well as the strength of it. Clever molding techniques mean that it is rigid and stable without carrying any of the weight
The sprintskin upper feels strong as ever. The microfiber synthetic helps keep the boot's weight way down while allowing you to feel secure in that the upper will not tear or separate. Like the launch colorway of the F50 adizero III, the Messi-special also features the sprintweb 3d-printed texture. This time around, it's been reworked for a much sleeker look while losing none of control bonuses. However, the synthetic upper still carries the one issue that I had with it in our initial review in that the touch feels more disconnected than I would like but this is by no means a deal-breaker, just slightly less than ideal.
The folks at adidas have once again unleashed an absolutely stunning design in the shape of two football (soccer) boots. They feel great on your feet, do great work on the ball, and look even better than those two previous sentiments combined. That is, if you could quantify gorgeous looks, feel, and awesome. The special edition case and extras just make the whole package even better.
For the Lionel Messi showpiece, adidas did not just create a new colorway for an existing boot. They created an experience. The whole thing feels tailored despite the fact that instead of stitched materials, everything is bonded and glued. The Facebook page that they launched for the occasion just goes to back that up.