With the festive season well and truly over, Sam Van Gelder was keen to burn off those mince pies. And luckily for him, Nike invited Sport-locker.net to the exclusive launch of the new CTR360 Maestri II Elite last week – lovely jubbly!
And what’s more, the event included a trip to Arsenal’s plush training complex in London Colney, followed by a Q+A session back at Nike Town with none other than Rafael Van der Vaart and Jack Wilshere – even more lovely jubbly! Who said Christmas was over for another year?!
The Boot: Nike CTR360 Maestri II Elite
Colour Tested: Challenge Red/White/Black
Category: Control Boot
Price (RRP): £224.99
Who wears them: Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Rafael Van der Vaart, Jack Wilshere (and many more playmakers!)
Having reviewed speed boots (the adidas adiZero and the Nike Mecurial Vapor SuperFly II Safari CR7) as well as the adidas Predator X in recent months, I was keen to try out a different style of boot altogether, and put them through a rigorous play test as well.
And the CTR360 Maestri II Elite are certainly different. The success of the first version was incredible. The original CTR football boots, released in 2009, were groundbreaking in the fact that many of Europe’s elite players flocked to wear the boot, despite it being a completely new concept.
And that’s because it was designed and marketed towards the ‘midfield maestro’ of the team. And over the course of last year, the boot has been seen more and more, with players from all positions snapping up the chance to wear them. This is why I was so excited to see the new version! It’s in the name Nike say the CTR360 Maestri II Elite is designed for the player looking to master control on the pitch.
Controlling the tempo with accurate passing, dictating the pace and creating chances are necessities for the midfield maestro. And with this in mind, Nike feel with position specifications a top priority, the CTR II (that’s what I’m calling them now) has six key elements for the player looking for a premium boot (cue the techy bit):
- PASS & RECEIVE PAD: Injected instep pad and grip-like traction allow precise ball control.
- KANGA-LITE UPPER: Feels like leather and provides great comfort and fit whatever the weather.
- DAPENING PODS: These cushion zones on the lateral forefoot give great first touch ball control.
- RECEIVE PAD: Improves instep ball control and makes trapping the ball easier.
- LACING SYSTEM: The asymmetrical lacing design creates an expanded ball control surface.
- CARBON CHASSIS: Carbon re-inforced chassis provides strength with bladed studs for optimal traction and stability.
Off we go!
So the day started by jumping on a coach bound for Arsenal’s stunning training complex in London Colney. As we arrived, we were greeted by another Arsenal player who wears the CTR II, Alexandre Song, but he soon sped off in his powerful sports car. It was then time to pick up our individually packed Nike goodie bags.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did I have the boots, but I also had some ace Nike Pro Combat shorts and baselayer top, as well as a full Nike training kit. Could this day get any better? (It does, I promise. Just read on and you’ll find out.)
Fully dressed and feeling very much like a pro footballer, it was then time to have a talk about the new boot and its improvements and changes from the original. And after all the technology had been explained, it was time to hit the pitch! (This was my time to shine, Arsene was definitely going to snap me up, I told myself.)
What was immediately clear was how incredibly comfortable the CTR IIs are. The term ‘fit like a glove’ could not be more apt here. It almost felt like I had slippers on. Never have I experienced such a snug fit in a boot before. The session took place in an indoor area at Arsenal’s training ground on a 3G surface, with the drills heavily linked to the key element of the boot: control.
The first drill was a simple running exercise with the ball being introduced progressively. The emphasis was on making intelligent runs and passing the ball through selected gates. During the running, it was apparent that the boots were very light as well as comfortable. This reduced weight was largely down to the carbon chassis.
The average energy expenditure of a professional footballer (who weighs 75kg) is over 1,000 Kilo Calories per game, so studies tell us. Making the boots lighter in weight obviously helps reduce the energy needed over the course of 90 minutes. By delivering a super-strong and lightweight carbon chassis, the CTR IIs are 19% lighter, giving players the edge they need. With the ball
It was also a joy to have the ball at your feet in these boots, and the technological developments can take some credit for that as well. Firstly, the synthetic upper is made from a material called Kanga-Lite, which has been developed by Nike to give the same ball feel as natural K-Leather but with the bonus of being more hard-wearing.
The fact that the material absorbs 20% less water than natural leather also means the boot will remain lightweight in wet conditions (not that this was an issue for me, as we were under a roof!) The remaining drills incorporated a mixture of passing and movement techniques, which gave me further opportunity to test out the technology in the new CTRs.
Whether the technology behind the memory foam insert on the top of the boot (‘dampening pods’) was evident is debatable, although I definitely felt comfortable controlling and passing the ball accurately.
Despite there not being a specific shooting drill included in the session, I still managed to ping a few shots at goal. And I am pleased to report back that they responded very well. Both driving and curling the ball at goal felt natural, and the new injected pass pad on the in-step of the boot reacted well.
Instead of the ‘memory foam’ style pad seen on the original CTRs, the new pass pad is now more like the swerve fin technology that can be found in Nike’s T90 Laser III football boots. This rubberised pad definitely helped when curling the ball at goal. Additionally the asymmetrical lacing system also expanded the striking zone, so again this helped when both controlling the ball but also during a shot. Some questions for you, gents
After a shower and some lunch (a great spread by the way), it was all-aboard the coach again, back to Nike Town where CTR II endorsers Rafael Van der Vaart and Jack Wilshere were waiting for my questions (honestly, they were only interested in mine).
First, BBC Sport’s Dan Walker hosted a brief question and answer session, where Mr. Wilshere signaled his desire to play with Joe Cole for England, whilst Van der Vaart was full of praise for his younger CTR wearer. And then we got a chance to fire some questions at the Spurs playmaker, whose wife was also in attendance (had to drop that one in.)
But this is a boot review after all, so below are a few snippets from the Dutch master relating to the boot itself: These boots are all about controlling a game.
Why is your first touch so important?
RVdV: If the first touch is good then it gives you more time to see the next situation. Especially when you are not the quickest player in the world. You always have to be aware of the spaces where to play.
Does the technology that goes into these boots actually make any difference to a professional footballer?
RVdV: It’s a great boot. They’ve obviously changed a few different things. It fits fantastic. I think it’s one of the best boots I’ve ever had.
So the CTR II is an improvement on the original?
RVdV: Yes much better. Especially inside the boot. It’s much softer and very nice to wear. Why do you wear the CTR over other Nike boots like the Laser or Vapor? RVdV: I really like this one. It’s the feeling. It depends on the position you play. I tried them, and I said to Nike that this is the boot for me. A few years ago I wore the Vapors, but these are much better. The Result
Nike’s goal for this boot was simple: Design a boot that masters control allowing players to receive and distribute passes with ease. And it’s clear that they have achieved just that. It really is a stunning boot. Having worn Nike’s Tiempo Legends before, I can honestly say these are on a different planet.
I’ll echo Rafa’s (my new mate) thoughts in saying that it’s one of the best boots I’ve ever worn. Ridiculously comfortable, lightweight, and packed full of technology that really makes for a revolutionary pair of football boots, these really are the real deal. Granted, they are also very expensive.
But you’ve got a long time to save up until next Christmas!
TAKE CONTROL: Jack Wilshere and Rafael Van der Vaart wear the new CTR360 Maestri II, a boot that helps the playmaker to receive, control and distribute the ball to Take Control of the game. On-sale now. Visit www.nikefootball.com