Nike is one of the biggest brands in all of sports and the world of culture as a whole, and it’s no surprise that many top players in football are sponsored by the American company.
Whilst the likes of Neymar, Sergio Ramos and Raheem Sterling have left the company to be sponsored by other sportswear brands, Nike still stands above the rest as one of the biggest names in football, with over 50% of players in the top-five leagues representing the brand.
Indeed, Nike are one of the biggest sponsors for clubs, players and sometimes entire competitions. Yet today, we want to focus on the names who wear the iconic Swish logo, and what would an XI look like of those who represent the brand.
Before we delve into the XI, it’s worth noting that Nike sponsors some of the biggest names in football, so much so that the following players didn’t make the cut: Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Riyad Mahrez, Andy Robertson, Martin Odegaard, Erling Haaland, Harry Kane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Virgil van Dijk leads a star-studded defense as Takehiro Tomiyasu starts
We’ll start with the elephant in the room. How has Takehiro Tomiyasu managed his way into this XI? Whilst the £16m Arsenal defender is a good player, not many would expect to see the Japanese international in this side. However, the reason is pretty obvious, that being the 23-year-old is the most recognisable right-back to be sponsored by Nike.
With the aforementioned Robertson, Joao Cancelo and Alphonso Davies (who starts on the other side) all sponsored by Nike, it’s quite amazing that Tomiyasu is the only natural right-back to be taken up by the American brand.
As for the rest of the backline, there’s no need for controversy here. Ruben Dias and Virgil van Dijk have been sponsored by Nike for most of their careers, as has Alisson Becker, with the trio making for one of the best central defensive combinations in football.
Luka Modric headlines the midfield alongside Kevin De Bruyne
As mentioned, over 50% of players in Europe’s top-five leagues are sponsored by Nike, meaning choosing just three central players for an XI is quite the challenge. Thankfully, when Kevin De Bruyne and Luka Modric are involved, the task gets a lot easier.
The two players are easily some of the best in their position in world football, with De Bruyne having another sensational season with Manchester City Modric was key to Real Madrid’s La Liga and UEFA Champions League title wins.
As for who should take the third spot, Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic takes the position, with the Serbian international arguably the most complete player in Europe with the Serie A dynamo reportedly set for a move this summer, with interested Tottenham.
Nike frontman Cristiano Ronaldo spearheads attack with Kylian Mbappe
Just like with the midfield, the attack, for the most part, writes itself, with Cristiano Ronaldo arguably on par with Michael Jordan as Nike’s most famous sponsored athlete, with the Portuguese star the frontman for the company’s entire footballing operations.
Alongside the Manchester United striker is Kylian Mbappe, who is viewed by many as a key reason why Neymar left Nike due to the Frenchman already having his own signature line and the American company doing a lot to fight off interest to keep the PSG in their arsenal .
For the final attacking spot, it’s hard to not look past anyone but Vinicius Junior, who had an outstanding season with Real Madrid, with the winger set to become the future poster boy for the club as well as a huge asset for Nike, especially given his status as a star in the making for Los Blancos and the Brazilian national team.
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