We pick the perfect boots for the maestros in midfield
As someone who’s affectionately teased as a “football manager” on the pitch for explaining football tactics, positioning and shapes, it’d be really remiss of me to categorise midfielders into a single homogenous group – even if they play in the same position technically. Jordan Henderson, for example, takes on a more destructive role, while Jorginho starts and facilitates Chelsea’s attack.
We’re therefore not going to recommend boots strictly by position, but instead by playstyle and preference. Whether you’re expecting a lot of touches on the ball as your team’s central pivot, the designated long-range shot taker or just a jack of all trades, we’ve got recommendations for everyone.
Here are our best boots for midfielders.
adidas Copa Gloro 20: The old-school guy (OSG)
Chances are, you’ve already had someone in mind the moment you saw the boots. The Old School Guy is someone who’s not fussed about what they wear as long as it’s affordable, durable and most importantly, made from leather.
They look up to the likes of Matt Le Tissier for his offensive inspirations, or the likes of midfield destroyers like Gennaro Gattuso for defending. They are the ultimate team player, performing the dirty work for the rest of the team to shine and play their game. He’ll occasionally surprise you by doing the damage with those killer through passes when the ball reaches them.
The Copa Gloro 20 (and 19) is the perfect match for the OSG. While the upper isn’t a super-soft kangaroo leather, the tougher leather translates to added durability to withstand those midfield battles. Because it’s still leather, it will still break in and mould to your feet nicelyas opposed to lower grade synthetics at similar price points.
What I like in particular about the Copa series in general is that the studs have a nice balance between grip as well as manoeuvrability, thanks to the slightly triangular shape studs. Additionally, the insole has a foam heel area for that extra bit of comfort.
And of course, that old school tongue is always an added plus.
Mizuno Rebula 3: The deep-lying playmaker (DLP)
Perhaps the clearest tactical evolution over the past two decades has been the role of the defensive midfielder. Not merely a shield in front of the defence, they’re now also expected to drop into the defensive line to begin attacks with precise passes or relieve pressure from the team with quick switches of play. They defend through anticipation and interceptions instead of tackling. To dictate the game and tempo for the team, they value comfort but more importantly a great touch on the ball to work their magic, modelling after players like Toni Kroos and Jorginho.
If that sounds like you then the BOOTHYPE Football Boot of 2019, the Mizuno Rebula 3, should be your top choice. The Rebula series has come a long way since it was first released in 2017 with its combination of a high rebound foam cage (CT Frame) and leather with improved fit and comfort in the latest generation.
The upper gives that luxurious leather touch on the ball, perfect for the DLP whose first touch isn’t just to control the ball, but to move it into position for his next pass. As someone who can’t afford to slip in that position, the CT Frame, wave-fit system and the upgraded stud pattern combines beautifully to provide excellent lockdown as well as the necessary traction when collecting the ball under intense pressure. Rebula 3 delivers all the pros of a leather boot, with none of the cons for the DLP to orchestrate the team to victory.
adidas Nemeziz 19.1: The box to box midfielder (B2B)
Two words – Steven Gerrard. The box-to-box midfielder is what every 90s kid grew up wanting to be. Thanks to his brilliance, every team I played for had at least one player in a number 8 jersey, taking pot shots from ambitious areas. They were also unbelievably athletic and the workhorse of our team, running up and down the midfield to attack and defend when needed. Players they identified with were the likes of N’Golo Kanté, Arturo Vidal, Aaron Ramsey and of course, Steven Gerrard.
The first synthetic boot on the list is probably the most controversial one here, but hear me out. The Nemeziz 19.1 is one of the most interesting boots on the market due to its characteristics. The split outsole gives the soleplate a very responsive feel with a snappier and stiffer forefoot. Running in the Nemeziz 19.1 felt less tiring, as I felt that the snappy forefoot gave me a better energy return.
What made it the perfect B2B midfielder’s boot was the barefoot upper, which imparts a nice, pingy sensation when hitting those long shots or longer passes over the defence. When combined with the stiff outsole (which really reminded me of the old Predator Pulse unit), shooting in the Nemeziz 19.1 was a dream.
ASICS Ultrezza AI: The line-breaking midfielder
Another tactical trend that’s come to the forefront in recent years, is the importance of being “press-resistant”. With teams adopting a high-press, midfielders who can bypass that press with a dribble or a well-positioned one-two are extremely valuable in the modern game.
The likes of Mesut Özil, Luka Modrić and pretty much every Spanish midfielder in the National Team during that golden 2008-2012 era, all excel at this. They’re the ones who look to receive the ball under intense pressure from one or even two opposition midfielders, before ghosting past them to lay off a well-timed assist to the strikers.
Yes, it’s another leather boot, but for good reason, because leather gives you that elegant, padded touch on the ball. The Ultrezza AI is perhaps the most comfortable boot I’ve worn to date, without compromising on lockdown even after break in.
What separates it from other leather boots is its soleplate, with the addition of a “brake” stud for those quick changes of directions to unbalance opponents. The cherry on top is the addition of the fuzeGEL and a 5mm lift which provides extra comfort and keeps you on your toes to help you accelerate past your opponents.
Nike PhantomVSN 2: The all-round midfielder
As a Manchester United fan, I can’t quite help but look enviously at Manchester City’s Kevin De Bryune who currently leads the Premier League with 16 assists. Along with the likes of Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcântara as well as Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s rising star Kai Havertz, I consider him as part of that rare breed of midfielders who can do it all.
They can dictate the play from deep, driving the team both offensively and defensively, as well as the ability to ghost past opposition midfielders to make those game winning assists.
Complementing the all rounded player’s ability to adapt to the team’s needs on the fly, the Quadfit mesh on the PhantomVSN 2 allows it to conform to most foot shapes for a true sock-like fit. It’s comfortable yet very responsive and provides a nice barefoot touch on the ball. In particular, I loved the grippy texture that helped reduce the spin on the ball, without being too overwhelming.
The Ghost Lacing System delivers excellent lockdown and a clean striking surface, for extra confidence when shooting or crossing the ball. The perfect platform for the all-rounded midfielder to take centre stage on the pitch.
Have a boot you feel is perfect for midfielders that’s not on the list? Let us know in the comments below.