Since it was first released in 1998, the Nike Mercurial has been worn by some of soccer’s most legendary players on the biggest stage in the sport. Brazil’s Ronaldo wore the debut pair at the ‘98 World Cup, and Cristiano Ronaldo donned the Mercurial Vapor IV SL 10 years later while helping Manchester United win the Champions League Final. Kylian Mbappe has now emerged as the next face for the Mercurial series, and after nearly 25 years, the goal remains the same for the soccer boots — speed, speed, speed.
Today, Nike reveals the Air Zoom Mercurial, the line’s next step forward that arrives ahead of the Women’s Euro tournament and the Men’s World Cup. As the name suggests, the latest boot is one of the first to feature an Air Zoom unit. The three-quarter length cushioning bag sits directly inside the plate and can actually be seen in the shoe’s interior, bringing players closer to the ground while charging forward at exclusive speeds.
“Being a Mercurial athlete, I’m always thinking about fast,” Mbappe said in a press release. “What excited me most is that the technology is revolutionary. Air is what’s really going to put the Mercurial athletes in the best conditions to perform.”
Zooming in — The new Zoom Air unit also features Flex Grooves that have been welded for better articulation and to allow natural movements. It’s cut super thin to help stay low, while the three-quarter length is optimized for transitions in speed.
Nike first teased its use of Zoom Air in its leading soccer cleats with the Mercurial Air Zoom Ultra SE, a limited-edition release featuring a full-length Zoom Air strobel inspired by the KD12 basketball sneaker. With the arrival of the Air Zoom Mercurial, the technology now becomes a full-fledged part of Nike’s mission for speed on the pitch — and there are a few other tools to help make good on that promise.
A brand-new Tri-Star pattern is used for the studs, optimized for lateral speed and quickness. Up top, an updated Vaporposite+ upper locks in the foot with a Speed Cage that uses bonded internal straps informed by data. Less advanced Flyknit appears at the tongue and collar primarily for comfort, while the Vaporposite used for the rest of the surface adds a grip-enhancing chevron mesh to maximize its wearer’s control of the ball.
The Air Zoom Mercurial will make its debut in a “Bonded” color variant during international women’s tournaments in July including the Euro, Concacaf, and Africa Cup of Nation’s. You can then expect to see plenty more of the boot when men’s domestic leagues resume play, and don’t be surprised if Nike has something else up its sleeve once it’s time for the World Cup.