The best players seem to have the ball on a string. They put it exactly where they want it when they want it. It’s a magical skill built on raw talent, honed by years of training and polished by creative genius, and it brings fans to their feet in a collective roar and opponents to their knees in resignation.
Those moments are made even more rare by obstacles beyond determined defenders. Driving winds, soaking rains and hostile field conditions can create chaos, diminishing even the most sublime skills.
Not any more. For the first time, Nike has integrated All Conditions Control (ACC) into a football to provide optimal touch and control in all weather and pitch conditions. The Nike Merlin football for the 2018-2019 season incorporates advanced design, materials and construction that make it worthy of being the official ball of the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.
Nike created a larger striking surface across the ball by reducing the traditional 12-panel construction to just four panels. This also reduced the number of seams by 40 percent, eliminated hard spots, opened up the ball and created a more pronounced sweet spot.
The ball is constructed of a latex bladder (instead of a traditional rubber) enveloped in proprietary materials to promote more consistent air pressure and keep its shape. Debossed grooves and 3D inks (these are engineered to dry at levels and locations that vary by millimeters) rise as they dry during the printing process further improve aerodynamics and the feel of the ball.
Secondary and tertiary colors serve to catch players’ eyes and help them to identify spin, speed and trajectory as quickly as possible.