Following the much-discussed announcement made in June that Mesut Özil and adidas would part ways at the end of the 2019/20 season, we spoke with Erkut Sogut, the Arsenal playmaker’s agent, to dive deeper into the German’s former sponsorship with adidas, his current situation and what the future holds.

Back in 2013, Ozil signed a monster deal with adidas worth a reported £22 million, swapping the Swoosh for the Three Stripes in what was a very controversial move at the time. He went on to be positioned as a prominent figure for the German brand in marketing campaigns for the laceless revolution that was the ACE 16+ Purecontrol and, later, the relaunch of the Predator.

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Now this recent parting of ways provides Özil with the opportunity to build his own brand, M10, whilst also allowing him to wear what he wants in the future, making him one of the first to tread new ground, offering an alternative approach to how boot deals could operate in the future.

There’s been a number of reports regarding Mesut’s contract with adidas. What’s the current status of it?

With Mesut and adidas, it’s now a contract that’s officially run out. There were a lot of headlines that adidas ‘dumped’ Özil, but that was never the truth. It was a long contract – nearly eight years – and a long, successful journey together. Everyone at adidas knew there would be no further contract beyond 2020 because Mesut has already started creating his own brand in the last few years.

So, contractually Mesut was not allowed to launch his own brand while he was with adidas?

It would have been impossible for Mesut to launch his own brand if he remained with adidas, so it was clear that sooner or later we would have to go our own way to give Mesut the freedom to do what he wants to do – to work on and develop his M10 brand. Players are so limited with what they can do when they sign a boot deal. Restrictions are normal and if I owned a boot company, I would make sure there were the same restrictions. Brands are paying players millions and millions each year and they want to get the maximum out of the deal.

It would have been impossible for Mesut to launch his own brand if he remained with adidas, so it was clear that sooner or later we would have to go our own way to give Mesut the freedom to do what he wants to do"

You worked with ‘Undefeated’ co-founder James Bond in the early development of the ‘M10’ brand. How did that relationship begin?

Yes, it started after the 2014 World Cup when we sat down with Mesut and discussed where he wanted to be in five years and what our long-term goals were. At the time we were with adidas, but Mesut spoke about his ambition of always wanting to create his own brand, so we knew from then that we needed to work with top people and designers.

A friend of mine in Los Angeles connected us with James Bond who owns the sneaker store ‘Undefeated’ – James was also working closely with adidas at the time. I went to his office in LA and discussed Mesut wanting to create his own brand after his contract with adidas had expired. I travelled to LA three times to meet with their design team and Mesut would call us on FaceTime to discuss ideas, so we developed a really close relationship.

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So, James and the Undefeated team played an important role in helping to launch the M10 brand?

Yes, once we had finalised the M10 logo, James advised us to keep the product very straight forward and just focus on small quantities of hats and t-shirts while we tested the market. After our first launch everything sold out within one hour and we had players like Sergio Ramos and Jerome Boateng wearing M10 hats as well as other celebrities.

From then we knew we had a real opportunity, but we couldn’t do anything else because of our partnership with adidas. So, it was clear for us that we needed to be free and independent in order to do our own thing and it’s only now, with the adidas contract expiring this summer, that we’re able to really develop the M10 brand.

How do you think boot deals might evolve in the future?

What’s happening more and more is that players are getting bigger in terms of their own brand and direct reach on social media, so the notion of restricting what a player can and can’t wear or promote is being challenged. Nowadays more players want to do things differently, so I think we’ll see a shift in the industry when it comes to how players work with boot sponsors and brands.

I think what will change in the future is that more players will sign short-term boot deals. Players don’t need to sign long-term boot deals for financial reasons because wages are so high. Obviously, brands want to sign the best young players to long term contracts, but I think we’ll see less and less players signing five-year boot deals and instead signing one-year deals at a time, so it gives them more freedom and flexibility. But different players will choose differently, depending on whether they want freedom or money.

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The retro Predator boots were sent to Mesut as a gift by adidas and what happened is he became so comfortable wearing them that he wanted to continue to play in them which probably wasn’t what adidas expected"

We’ve seen Mesut wear a number of special-edition adidas boots this season. Is this something adidas supported?

Mesut always wanted to choose the adidas boots he wore, but as part of the contract he had to wear the boots adidas told him to wear. For example, the retro Predator [Accelerator ‘Electricity’] boots he is wearing now, they were sent to Mesut as a gift by adidas and what happened is he became so comfortable wearing them that he wanted to continue to play in them which probably wasn’t what adidas expected. I understood adidas’ position – they want their players wearing their latest boots – but I also understood Mesut’s desire to be comfortable in the boots he wears.

What boots might we see Mesut wearing from next season onwards?

Mesut is now free to wear whatever boots he wants, so every week we could see him wearing a different boot. We’re exploring a number of options right now; one includes working with different designers and different charities to create customised boots with unique designs and messages. Certain boots he wears will then be auctioned after each game with the proceeds going to charity.

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And what are the next steps in developing the M10 brand?

For us now it’s about building relationships with different brands – we want to build the M10 brand in collaboration with other brands and grow it slowly. We are exploring opportunities in Asia because Mesut has a huge fan base in Asia – especially Japan as there are a lot of Arsenal fans in Japan.

The intention is not for Mesut to make money from building his personal brand – it’s a way of him giving back. He always tells me – ‘whatever we do with my brand, make sure the money is going to charities’ – because he doesn’t need the money. The ultimate goal for us is to grow the brand so we can help more people.

Looks like another reason to watch the Arsenal training ground in the near future...