Releasing a synthetic and leather version of the same boot is nothing new for the big brands. We regularly see companies introduce separate boots that feature each material to suit players with different performance needs. One of the most hotly discussed in recent times has come in the Adidas F50 adiZero series, with Adidas continually advertising the synthetic version through release, only to see high-profile pro players picking up the leather for their game use. Lionel Messi, in particular, is one player that confides in the leather version and he definitely sets the bar in terms of boot expectations.
In light of that, we picked up a pair of the leather boots for testing. If you need to know more about the synthetic, you can check that review out here. Otherwise, check out what the leather F50 has to offer below with some finite details on how they compare to the synthetic version.
The F50 adiZero Leather is currently available to buy at soccer.com.
Pretty much everything about the upper of the leather version is different to the synthetic version, so I’m expecting it to perform like a completely different boot. This version was released as part of the Winter Black Pack and features a very traditional black leather upper with some light detailing. A lot of readers have been requesting this review, and it makes sense considering more and more pro players choose the leather version over synthetic.
Breaking In and Comfort
Where the synthetic version of the boot features new innovations like SpeedFoil to impact comfort, the leather version is a lot like previous F50 releases and it relies on the simplicity of soft materials to ensure your foot is snug. The leather upper is super soft and provides a padded, natural feel right out of the box. The benefit of leather is the fact that it stretches with your foot shape and doesn’t constrict like synthetic can. Even through the initial wear, you can feel the difference as the upper hugs your foot yet gives a natural fit. In a sense, they fit very much like a full, old school leather boot – minus the SprintFrame that is!
One aspect of these boots that I really like is the inner lining, with a suede toward the heel and a softer silk like material covering the forefoot. It catches your socks and allows for a secure fit through wear, definitely a positive if you like to chop and turn a lot through games. And not that many of you play without socks, but they could be worn barefoot easily – everything about the inside of the boot is extremely soft giving you some indication of the quality included.
Adidas use a Goleo calf-leather that is soft and very thin. It runs right around the entire boot, but the most important area is obviously the forefoot. (*update: the front half of the boot is leather, with a very soft leather-like synthetic used through the back half of the upper) After several games and training, it has really loosened up and is very much a adapted shape. Given the fact that a lot of stitching in added, you can rest assured that it is very pliable and easily conforms to foot shape after several wears.
The Choice of Messi
With every F50 adiZero release, we are treated to images of Messi holding pairs of the boots with a synthetic upper and it leaves us wondering “is he going to wear them?” The answer is always the same – NO! Messi has a firm favorite in the leather upper and that is what he has continually worn. Adidas has even went so far as to create leather pairs that look extremely similar to the synthetic version, hiding the stitching by employing unusual colorways. If we read into Messi quotes, it is clear that feeling the ball from first touch is the key element to Messi and he gets that from the softer, thin leather used on the F50. Note; there is obviously a lot of customization on Messi’s boots that differentiate them from the market available leather version.
The key talking point about this edition of the adiZero is a new SpeedTraxion outsole. Rather than sticking with the very highly regarded SprintFrame stud configuration, they have transitioned to what they call SpeedTraxion. Adidas seemed very confident with the original configuration and it had been included on the adiZero since its introduction to the market. SpeedTraction offers a different level of performance. It is a high speed stud alignment designed to provide maximum acceleration and pinpoint changes in direction.
How does that translate on pitch? Very well, in fact, and Adidas has definitely improved what it previously had. It is particularly useful on artificial turf, where you really are able to chop, crop and turn without any drag. With so many pitches turning to turf surfaces, I am sure Adidas spent time ensuring this configuration would be effective to use. Just looking at the positioning and shape of each blade gives you a visual example of why this version of the boot is a more effective speed boot. Rather than the triangular shape, these studs are cover a longer but more narrow surface space. And by moving the center stud higher up on the boot, weight distribution is shifted and more uniform. It actually adds a more natural pivot point for your foot to swivel.
When striking the ball, you will notice more impact on the ball but that comes as part of having a thin, lightweight leather upper at your disposal. While striking firm shots, your foot does take in some of the impact. There are two players to consider in this area that epitomize which option is right for you. Both Gareth Bale and Lionel Messi like to get on the ball and dribble at speed, but when it comes to finishing Messi is all about get around players and places delicate finishes and chips past keepers. Bale, on the other hand, places a large emphasis in power and he scores plenty of driven goals. Messi wears leather, while Bale wears synthetic. If you need a boot that allows for plenty of one on one coverage while ensuring you have that delicate touch around the goal, then the leather version is the way to go.
Something else that is interesting about these boots is the addition of a high lip that connects the soleplate to the upper right at the front of the boot. It is a minor modification that we haven’t seen on other F50 adiZero releases, but it adds to the durability element of the boot. If anyone has experienced the nagging issue of grass of black turf pellets sitting in a small gap between the upper and sole due to catching the surface, rejoice. This simple change reduces the opportunities of this occurring and results in a boot better suited to playing (and kicking the ground) on different surfaces.
How do they Fit?
This is the type of boot that you will absolutely want to get a true to size fit in. In other words, they fit snug but offer a proper level of stretch for players that need some extra space. Where the synthetic offered a little stretch off a tight fit, these have medium fit with plenty of opportunity to open up. From my experience, they won’t overstretch like some leathers seem to do, so the fit will help the boot last (durability wise) over an extended period.
For those in between the synthetic and leather version, note that you will find the leather version offers a more spacious fit, to the overall snug synthetic.
Synthetic or Leather – Deciding Between Both
Selecting between both versions really comes down to personal playing style. There is a much more modern feel and fit about the synthetic version and they are definitely geared toward players looking for something new and exciting. The leather version is surprisingly traditional, especially in this darker colorway. it is almost like Adidas wanted to produce a heritage feel about the leather version, something that might appeal to a broader array of followers outside of younger generation. From my experience, the synthetic is a boot better suited to striking shots whereas the leather is all about getting close touches on the ball and playing deft passes.
Another option that might help players who are stuck deciding between both is looking at players and what they currently wear. Messi is obviously the go to player when we talk about the leather version, but you also need to look at Robin Van Persie and his customized leather version. On the other side of the spectrum, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani wear the synthetic.
Pick up your pair of F50 adiZero at Soccer.com right now.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A top class, very modern looking boot created to suit attacking players who want clean touch on the ball and speedy change of direction.
Category: Speed with a lightweight leather upper.
Would I Buy Them: Personally, I’d choose these over the more technology heavy synthetic version, and they would be one of my top options when it comes to speed boots.
Player Position: The leather version is very compatible with most player positions on the pitch, but ultimately they are always going to a boot that better suits attacking style players like wingers and forwards.
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