For awhile it might have seemed like Nike was out of the soccer lifestyle sneaker game. This week, however, we came to find out the American sports giant was simply reloading as it has come back to make the biggest bang yet.

Nike’s Mercurial Heritage collection is something every soccer fan should want to add to their sneaker rotation. To me, the collection is the epitome of what I think of as off-pitch style as Nike is really not trying to reinvent the wheel. Rather than developing an entirely new soccer-inspired shoe as we have seen done over recent years, Nike is simply allowing great soccer designs of the past speak for themselves by transposing them to its successful Air Max 270. This decision proves to be vital as the end product brings with it an already established fan base. On one side you have the cult following around the Air Max line, while on the other you have the multitude of soccer fans and Mercurial lovers specifically that will no doubt rally around the shoe.

Admittedly, this is not the first time we have seen Nike do this. The brand’s most recent foray with iconic Mercurial designs that I can think of was the Air Max Mercurial R9. Unfortunately, the shoe must not have sold so well as it ended up in Nike’s clearance section before I saw posts of the shoes being sold at a heavy discount at stores like Ross or Marshall’s. Bearing all this in mind, it is then understandable to ask what exactly makes this release any different?

The difference of this drop is the entire business plan. Instead of making this a wide release, Nike has opted to use its Nike iD platform to breathe a little bit of exclusivity to this product. In addition to paying a premium price for this exclusivity, consumers also have the benefit of options as Nike has resuscitated some of the most iconic World Cup designs of its Mercurial line over the past 20 years. There a total of five options to choose from. While this selection does not exactly eliminate the likelihood of running into someone with the same Mercurial design, the iD options which are themselves also soccer-inspired do guarantee that you’ll be strutting your love for the beautiful game in a pair of kicks that are uniquely yours, and therefore unlike any other.

Decisions, however, are always difficult. Surely, all of us strive to be like Nelly and just say “I need two pairs so I can get to stomping” in my Air Max 270’s in this case. I don’t know about you, but I am not exactly about that life. For this reason, I’ve stepped in to rank the five designs and share some thoughts that might help you make a more informed decision with whatever pair you decide to go with. I’ll start with my pick for the number fifth spot.

#5: AIR MAX 270 2002 MERCURIAL

All of the Mercurial designs chosen for this collection work off of great colorways. The 2002 inspired Air Max 270 is no different, however, it lacks that blinding radiance I have always associated with its cleat counterpart. The shoe is therefore just too dull and does not do enough justice to its predecessor.

#4: 2006 AIRMAX 270 MERCURIAL

The 2006 inspired edition has one of the least interesting Mercurial designs working against it. That being said, it does benefit from its historical significance as this is the same design worn by Ronaldo at the time he became the World Cup’s all-time leading goal scorer. I’ve always remembered that great step over Ronaldo had in his goal against Ghana, however, this nostalgia is simply not enough to propel this design any further.

#3: 1998 AIR MAX 270 MERCURIAL

The 1998 inspired design is no doubt the most recognizable of all five offerings. Clearly, people connect with this design, otherwise, Nike would not bring it back so often. In this case, however, I just think a more faithful reproduction of the cleat might have benefitted the sneaker significantly. While the positioning of the Swoosh may not have been interchangeable, I do think a stitched on 3-D swoosh much like the one on the cleat itself would have really set this shoe apart from the rest.

#2: 2010 AIR MAX 270 MERCURIAL

Aside from the 1998 edition, the 2010 Mercurial design is one of the more unique. The colors just complement each other so well here and the only reason this shoe does not take the top spot is the simple fact that there is just another shoe to choose from.

#1: 2014 AIR MAX 270 MERCURIAL

The 2014 edition is the most recent of all and does not have all that history associated with all the other Mercurials. The shoe wins simply on aesthetic alone as its bright pink color and enlarged gold swoosh provide those pops that would make any shoe a real head turner. It doesn’t hurt also that these shoes are the one pair that look the most prime for summer.

I am curious to know your stance on my rankings. Make sure to comment below with the pair you’d like to pick up from Nike iD.

Images via Nike.

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