The 2019/20 Premier League season in England kicks off later tonight with the European Champions Liverpool taking on Norwich at Anfield, Liverpool. The ball that will be used for the Premier League this year is the Nike Merlin, and this ball is exclusive for use in the Premier League only. This incidentally also marks the 200-year partnership between Nike and the Premier League. This isn’t just any football though, and there is a lot of smart tech infusion that perhaps makes it better than the very capable ones that came before it.
The Nike Merlin is made of four fuse-welded panels that are joined together. The idea is to extend the “sweet spot” that footballers look for, with fewer seams and thereby joined pieces getting in the way. Good news then for those midfielders who like slick passes, and even for those who like to ping long and accurate passes (also known as Hollywood passes) to catch opposition defenders out of position. Then there is the Urban Grip tech, which is an update for Nike’s All Conditions Control (ACC) technology. The Premier League fixtures are played in a variety of conditions, including rain, drizzle and even snow at times.
The Urban Grip tech should help with the traction in varying pitch conditions and grip levels. Additionally, there is the 3D ink that has been used, which should also help with ball control in wet and dry conditions and not allow it to skid around. Quite often, ink and paint on a ball makes it skid more than usual on surfaces that aren’t completely dry.
The development of the Merlin also focused on making the ball more consistent in terms of the passing range and the flight trajectory. The Nike Aerowtrack grooves have been integrated in the Merlin ball, with the idea to ensure that every pass is consistent.
The 2018/19 edition of the Nike Merlin used in the Premier League season that already feels like a distant memory, saw 1,072 goals being scored and 2,77,486 passed completed.