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  • by Phil Delves March 09, 2024 3 min read

    I'm still coming to terms with the news that Barcelona are contemplating a split with Nike.

    The end of NIke Barcelona football shirts

    For as long as I can remember Barcelona and Nike have been together. I was just starting school the last time Barça had a different manufacturer with Kappa in 1997/98. The entirety of Lionel Messi's Blaugrana career was enjoyed during the Nike years, youth teams included, and when I think of football in the 00s the image that burns clearest in my mind is of Ronaldinho working his magic on and off the pitch in Nike gear.

    Before I turn this week's post into a vicious cycle of reflective nostalgia we have to move on and consider what the post-Nike world looks like for Barcelona. What options are on the table, and what will happen if the team does indeed start designing their own kits as rumours suggest?

    Browse our collection of vintage Barcelona shirts here

    Who should manufacture Barcelona's shirt?

    Let's talk first about the options should Barcelona wish to stay with an established brand in a traditional kit partnership model. It's entirely possible that, despite the rumours, Nike actually end up staying in town. Given that Barça's demands for more money are a key sticking point in any continuation of the relationship I'd be surprised, but it's worth pointing out that there is a chance.

    There will be no shortage of suitors should the Nike era end however. Of the other 'big 3', adidas are unlikely to work with the club any time soon given their relationship with Real Madrid, which leaves Puma as the next most obvious candidate. After some initial talks and even the report that a massive €200-per-year deal had been agreed in principle between both parties, more recent rumours suggest progress has all but completely halted with Puma under the impression Barcelona are simply using the negotiations to get a better deal from Nike.

    It's difficult to keep up with the changeable news which is playing out as if we were watching some sort of political and/or business thriller, but there is yet another direction which seems to be gathering the most momentum. Should Barcelona split with Nike and fail to secure a new deal with another major manufacturer (whether by choice or not), they may decide to design their kits in-house.


    View 2003 Barcelona shirt here.

    This approach would be something of a surprise. For all the potential freedom of an in-house approach, there are very real questions that would need to be asked in terms of distribution and manufacturing. In-house shirts make a lot of sense for a smaller team with a predominantly local market, but for one of the biggest sporting outfits in the world it's unthinkable that Barcelona would be able to go it alone. The scenario only becomes trickier when you factor in all the products outside of football kits which would need to be designed, produced and then distributed to all corners of the globe.

    View the 1984-89 Meyba Barcelona shirt here..

    Will hummel be the Barcelona shirt distributor?

    If reports are to be believed, this is where hummel could come in. After some initial rumours that hummel might swoop in on a traditional kit partnership (the thought of Barcelona decked out in chevrons was a fun dream whilst it lasted), it's now been suggested that hummel would team up with the Catalan giants to manufacturer and distribute their kits, leaving everything on the design side completely in Barcelona's hands. It'll be fascinating to see what happens if we do indeed get this sort of partnership, though if history tells us anything I'll be sceptical until proven otherwise.The idea of in-house kits is great but the results of such an approach tend to be underwhelming at best. Take St-Pauli for example.

    Though nowhere near the size of Barcelona, the German outfit built something of a glowing reputation amongst collectors thanks to some wonderful spells with both (incidentally) hummel and Under Armour across the 2010s. A switch to the in-house model in 2020 promised much, but the move has been a strict downgrade in my eyes when compared to what came before. It was a similar story with Borussia Dortmund in the early 00s, whose in-house kits were little more than a novelty.

    Lots of people look back on Roma's 2013/14 kits (which were produced in-house bridging the gap between Kappa and Nike) with fondness, but the designs are an exception to the rule in my eyes. We'll keep an eye on this developing story which is sure to have another twist or two, but should the dust settle with Barça doing things themselves I'll remain cautiously pessimistic.

    Phil Delves
    Phil Delves

    As Head of Content, Phil is the creative playmaker of the team, covering every angle of football shirt news in our blogs and weekly Newsletter. Whether it's telling your fakes from your authentics, or deep dives into the newest football shirts designs, Phil will have all your football shirt content needs covered.

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