Lionel Messi switched from Nike to Adidas early in his Barcelona career after ‘insignificant’ request


Lionel Messi switched from Nike to Adidas in 2006 following a very insignificant request from the then Barcelona star, according to a new book.

It’s no surprise brands want PSG to be at the center of what they do and would be willing to spend big bucks to onboard the 35-year-old.

Recently, the Argentine star was one of those featured in Pepsi’s latest ad, for the upcoming World Cup, and he is almost as praised as Nike’s own performance at the 1998 World Cup.

While the clothing brand known for its swoosh didn’t unleash all it has for this year’s tournament, it too could have had Messi in it, in an alternate universe.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is quite synonymous with his partnership with Adidas, but prior to the 2006 World Cup he had actually been with their rivals, Nike.

Having been with the American company since he was 14, he ditched them for the German company, despite his then club Barcelona being with Nike.

According to a new book, ‘Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game, by Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson, it was all due to several reasons.

The book, serialized by the Wall Street Journal, claims that Nike was planning its marketing campaign for the World Cup in Germany, even arranging a photoshoot with Messi.

They then received a phone call from the player’s representatives asking them to drop the photos, and that Messi was signing with their rivals.

Messi has become the face of Adidas. Image: Alamy

Apparently, it was because of a missed request from Nike, who ignored the player’s father, Jorge Messi, asking for more tracksuits for the striker.

Nike’s Iberian and South American operations failed to revert to Messi snr and that was, the book says, enough to ‘sour’ things between the player and the company.

After that, their refusal to engage in a bidding war with Adidas would have further deterred the player and father from staying with the company that previously sponsored them.

The case actually went to court in 2006, with Nike claiming to have reached a ‘binding agreement’ with the player, but Messi and Adidas did.

Rather than a ‘binding agreement’, the Spanish judges found they had a ‘letter of engagement’ and Messi officially switched to Adidas in February of that year.

Messi wore Nike for years with Barcelona and still does with PSG.  Image: Alamy
Messi wore Nike for years with Barcelona and still does with PSG. Image: Alamy

Despite his own personal allegiance, Messi has worn Nike shirts with Barcelona and PSG, with the latter having the added Air Jordans connection.

Before that though, he will wear Adidas in Qatar and Argentina will try to end a 36-year spell without winning the World Cup.


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