After his second signature shoe, is Neymar on course to follow Cristiano Ronaldo and become Nike's next great signature athlete?
In the world of football, there is not a move for a professional that sits close to receiving a signature boot release. While customization is nothing new, and boots that commemorate a massive achievement are rather commonplace for some of the bigger players, only a select few players are allowed to put their hands on a boot that has been designed for them from the studs to the laces; a boot that they can truly call their own.
For Nike, their two headline players currently ply their trade for the two biggest clubs in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo and his slightly altered Mercurial Superly IV always seem to be the talk of the boot world, but Nike’s latest launch of Neymar’s "Liquid Diamond" Hypervenom shows that the Swoosh have big plans for their Brazilian star.
Neymar may have chosen to exist within the rather massive shadow of some guy named “Messi,” but the young forward is slowly making it obvious that his skills displayed back with Santos in Brazil were no fluke. While he averaged a goal every other game for the Brazilian club where Neymar began to make his name, he has carried that average over to the bigger and exponentially more difficult pitches of Spain and Europe. So, is Nike gearing up to make Neymar their flagship player as CR7 slowly (albeit with amazing panache) makes his way towards the toughest opponent in football in Father Time?
The first thought for Nike will be how little flak they receive for Neymar’s Hypervenoms and how easy that will make marketing. While every Ronaldo launch is quickly met with a host of “altered heel collar” comments, debates, and in some cases, general displeasure, Neymar’s Venoms (minus the odd customized sole-plate) look identical to the retail versions that any of us can snag for ourselves. As the equipment fan-base slowly becomes more and more educated, it seems to be ever-growing in importance for fans to feel that they are wearing exactly what their favorite player is wearing and not just the same colorway. Hopefully this won't change with the arrival of the Hypervenom II.
The second thought for Nike is that, while Neymar may have a massive platform to show off anything Nike slaps on his feet, the Barcelona forward will only be given any club spotlight that Messi is not taking for himself. Adidas know that their star player is Barcelona's most important asset as they approach an uncertain future together, which means that Neymar’s influence will always be directly proportionate to that of his attacking partner. Nike will have to fight their biggest rival for every second that Neymar and Messi walk onto the pitch as teammates.
After the 2014 World Cup, despite not having any major players in the final, Nike definitely got to see that Neymar is the future (and present) of Brazil’s national team. Luckily, the Seleção also wear Nike kits, which means that Neymar can be central to any campaign going forward. Given his age, Neymar is well poised to be the main face of Nike when Russia hosts the biggest tournament in the world. At only 22, Nike can take Neymar-induced money bags to the bank for another decade or so. It never hurts that one of your star players has become so massive this early in his career. Nike will definitely be aware that Neymar can carry a big weight long after Ronaldo has hung up his boots.
When Neymar steps away from the pitch, he carries a personality that allows Nike to stretch their influence from the pitch to the street, arguably more so than CR7 has done. Used during an early round of Nike's 24/7 collection and now a major face of NIKE F.C, Neymar’s star status in his own country and the world will give Nike exactly what they need to continue their assault on being #1 when it comes to everything associated with the world’s game. It never hurts to have a winning smile and ridiculous foot skills.
There can be no doubt that the future for Nike and Neymar rolls forward with an absolute mass of potential. Factoring in the player’s age, his influence, and the positive steps Nike have made in the market, Neymar and the Swoosh have set themselves up to dominate the conversation for years to come. Not to mention that giving any player a set of flashy silver boots is going to force the attention their way. But for Neymar, he needs no help holding your gaze. Much like the diamonds used to influence Neymar’s newest Hypervenom boots, the future success for the brand and player looks crystal clear.
The Nike Hypervenom Liquid Diamond is available worldwide from today at selected Nike stockists including Pro-Direct Soccer.