As we enter the new year we've taken a look at a selection of high profile players across Europe who have blacked out their footwear to signal their availability in the boot game.
It's a well known trick of the trade to black your football boots out if you're trying to attract a brand to offer you a contract. All of the major boot manufacturers have introduced new colourways ahead of the festive season for their contracted athletes but there's still a cluster of players shouting out for a deal for various reasons.
Upon his return from injury we saw Zlatan adopt a blacked out pair of Nike Tiempo Legend V's, which sparked rumours that he'd left Nike? It was confirmed that Ibra was looking elsewhere when spotted trailing a pair of blacked out F50 boots. It's still an unclear boot future for Zlatan but it is safe to say they'll be a queue of brands looking to make him sign on the dotted line.
The flying Dutchman has struggled for form this season but with four goals in four games it looks like van Persie has began to peak at the right time with a busy Christmas schedule for Manchester United. Throughout this season RVP has been wearing a blacked out pair of F50 boots with custom Predator adiPower soleplate. The United striker is currently a free boot agent and he's in no rush for a new deal.
Carlos Tevez is another hot shot striker who is also without a boot deal at the moment. The Juventus man has been a long time supporter of the Tiempo Legend, having worn the majority of Tiempo's since its original creation back in 2005. But now it looks like this long-standing relationship is over with Tevez wearing a blacked out pair of Tiempo Legends since October.
There's a theme here isn't there? All these players are heading towards the end of their careers. As their boot contracts end their renewal deals obviously have a couple less zeroes on the cheques that these players have been used to. Eto'o has been a loyal name for PUMA throughout the years, the front man who was once known for his blistering pace utilised the creation of the speed boot PUMA introduced to the footballing world with the V1.06. Yet at the age of 33, it now seems that the Cameroon striker has left PUMA, supporting a blacked out version of his trusty evoSPEED 1.2 boots.
Let's break the theme for a moment. Eric Dier made an impressive start to the season scoring two in his first two games for Tottenham wearing Umbro boots before moving into a pair of Nike "Neo Turq/White/Hyper Crimson" Tiempo Legends. However, the Tiempo legends have been given the blacked out treatment, with the promising English full back looking for a new deal.
Aaron Lennon is another Spurs player who finds himself in a blacked out pair of boots, with the winger looking to have cut ties with the Swoosh. At the the start of the season we saw Lennon in the Mercurial Superfly IV, but as the season has gone on we have seen him move into the Mercurial X. And now in late October we saw Lennon convert his “Laser Orange” Vapor X's into a complete blacked out boot, making it clear to see that his boot deal has come to an end.
Last weekend, Nike Magista wearer İlkay Gündoğan's scored a first half header against Hoffenheim helping BVB move up to 14th in the Bundesliga. If you paid close attention to what was on his feet you may have noticed that the Nike Swooshes were blacked out. In Dortmund’s recent Champions League tie Gündoğan was seen in a complete blacked out pair of Nike Magista's. Gündoğan is a man in demand this season, by clubs and brands alike.
Morgan Schneiderlin has been a key part of the Southampton’s success this season, scoring and creating goals in his Nike Magista Opus boots, but now it seems that Schneiderlin is on the look out for a boot deal as his profile rises. We first saw him wearing a blacked out pair of boots against Aston Villa, and most recently against Manchester City. When you're at the top end of the Premier League you start to realise you could make a few quid out this boot game.
Another Southampton player who finds himself in a blacked out pair of boots is Victor Wanyama. Having worn Nike Magista Opus boots for the majority of the season, last Monday we saw Wanyama black out his boots as Manchester United paid a vist to St Mary's. He's in the same boat as Schneiderlin, performing well and starting to think he deserves a bigger slice of the sponsor cake.
A World Cup winner without a boot deal. Dortmund's full-back Kevin Großkreutz. Having been with Nike for the past couple of seasons and rocking the Superfly IV in Brazil, it seems now that the German and Nike have parted ways with the Großkreutz now seen using a pair of blacked out PUMA evoSPEED boots.
Every year we see Wilfried Bony black out pretty much every pair of Mercurial boots he's ever received from Nike. This weekend we saw Bony score against Tottenham, whilst wearing a pair of...... Yep you guessed it. Do you think he's trying to tell Nike something about the colourways used on the Mercurial?
Which of these players are next in line for a new boot deal? Let us know your thoughts below.