New kit is a big sweaty Messi.
It was supposed to be the sports business marriage from heaven. Nike makes the kit for European Champions FC Barcelona and both share the income from millions of shiny claret-and-blue shirts bearing the names of living legends such as Leo Messi.
The jerseys are more than just presents for fans. Special “pitch shirts”, made just for the squad, are also meant to make the players’ lives easier on the pitch, improving performance and helping them win titles.
But embarrassed Barcelona officials have now admitted that the players are unhappy with the shirt design, complaining that it soaks up sweat to become a heavy, skin-clinging nuisance.
Players have even taken to weighing their shirts on scales at half-time to see how much weight they have gained, according to Spain’s El País newspaper.
A shirt that weighed 200 grams at the beginning of a match can weigh up to two-and-a-half times as much just 45 minutes later.
Dressing room sources told El País that players noticed during a pre-season tour of the US that the shirt “weighed a tonne” and “stuck to the body like a limpet”.
They hoped the problem would not persist when they returned to the more forgiving weather conditions in Spain, but on Friday the club called a meeting with Nike to seek solutions.
I have to admit that I have noticed that Barcelona players have appeared drenched after barely seeing the referee blow for kick-off but clearly the problems with the new Nike shirts have not stopped the Catalan side from being at their imperious best for the most part.
One would have thought that Nike would have tested these kits to see just how the fared in playing conditions and surely at this stage they would have noted that the weight of the shirts had increased significantly and therefore were not up to scratch.
Perhaps this is all part of some sort of Jose Mourinho/Real Madrid conspiracy?