Back around 2015, adidas were struggling for superstar players. Sure, they had Lionel Messi, but for all of his talent on the pitch, he’s not one to seek the limelight off of it, unlike his perennial rival, Cristiano Ronaldo over at Nike. No, adidas were lacking an individual with charisma… a larger-than-life persona that could not only face campaigns, but elevate them. Step forward the soon-to-be most expensive footballer in the world, Paul Pogba.

Five years and seven signature collection seasons later, and Paul Pogba is well established as one of adidas’s main players. With his his larger-than-life personality, his incredible social media draw and, of course, his talents on the field, he is one of the most marketable players on the planet. While questions may continue about his commitment at club level – especially with his contract at Manchester United nearing its end – the World Cup and Nations League winner has more than lived up to the hype from a marketing perspective. 

Pogba enjoyed a meteoric rise that saw him leave Manchester United for Juventus in 2011, where he claimed three successive Serie A titles, being crowned Europe’s Golden Boy and being named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI and UEFA’s 2015 Team of the Year on the way. And from the beginning of the 14/15 season he did so in whatever boots took his fancy, switching between the Swoosh and Three Stripes with such frequency that he even swapped at half time of a match at one point.

He was a prominent figure throughout the testing phase on the build up to the launch of the ACE 16+ Purecontrol, wearing numerous blacked-out editions as adidas began to tempt him to the sign on the Three-Striped line. How the German brand would’ve loved to have had him for that launch. But alas, by the time the Frenchman signed a 10-year deal with adidas in February 2016 worth a staggering £31 million ($40m), that ship had sailed. Didn’t mean that he didn’t become one of the most prominent faces in the revolutionary new silo though, taking centre stage on future launches such as the ‘Viper Pack’ ACE 16+ Purecontrol.

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He then played an even more prominent role in the launch of the adidas Red Limit collection, which brought the Three Stripes' key running innovation, Boost to football for the first time in the ACE 17+ Mastercontrol, taking centre stage for the promo video. The film urged aspiring young footballers to focus on creating their own path, rather than emulating their heroes, and it marked the first time that Pogba was fully utilised as the face of a huge product launch for adidas. It was a sign of things to come and the direction in which the brand wanted to take the burgeoning superstar.

Speaking on his decision to sign with adidas, Pogba said: “It was a very important decision for me. I chose adidas because we are united by our passions and values. We have the same vibes on and off the field. Adidas believes in my dream of leaving a mark on the football world. I hope to leave my imprint and to add something personal and new to this iconic brand.

That move was followed by another that rocked the world of football, when the midfielder completed his record-breaking £89.3 million (US$113 million) return to Manchester United, making him the most expensive player in the history of the game and sparking #POGBACK, along with putting “POG” in front of any other words that begin with a B. The move was announced in an ‘accidentally’ leaked music video on adidas’ official Twitter account, with Pogba, clad head to toe in United gear, starring alongside fellow adidas ambassador, Stormzy.

Obviously, if you have a talent like Pogba on your books, you don’t just leave him languishing in the regular roster of boots that mere mortals wear, and it wasn’t long before adidas rolled out the special edition treatment accordingly. One year on from signing with the brand, Pogba was given his first signature edition boot, the ACE 17+ Purecontrol “PP”, and it was the headline drop from what was a full collection that took off-pitch creativity to new heights. Fully leveraging his marketability, the collection took inspiration from the worlds of fashion and hip-hop for what was a bespoke range of football and lifestyle products.

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With Pogba's trademark black and gold combination pulling the collection together, the adidas x Pogba collection saw the debut of a newly designed 'PP' logo as it was rolled out at the prestigious home of Parisian fashion and culture, Colette. Premium treatment all round.

Speaking of the collection Pogba said; “I joined adidas because I believed that it would let me express my creativity on and off the pitch. After wearing a number of one-off bespoke boots on the pitch, I wanted to take things to the next level. The launch of the adidas x Pogba Collection is the first step of my wish to leave my mark and shows how I view football, both on and off the pitch.” This was a sign of intent from the brand, with them now boasting a player that could carry such a collection.

Weeks after scoring in United’s Uefa Europa League final triumph over Ajax, Pogba headed to China on a solo summer tour organised by adidas. Travelling on a personalised tour bus and private jet, his own barber in tow to keep that trim fresh, adidas showcased Pogba around China, allowing him to take in the sights and dab in various tourist spots, all while building-up his profile in an alternative market.

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Following on from the success of Season 1 of the adidas x Pogba collection, it didn’t take adidas long to release Season 2, which dropped in October 2017. Throwing his signature style at a collection headlined by the PP ACE 17+ street edition, Season 2 gathered earthy tones and desert camo to represent Pogba's African roots. Unlike the first release, this second season did not include a standard football boot edition, with adidas instead serving up two street versions of the ACE 17+ alongside a full repertoire of apparel and accessories.

Then, before the dust had really even settled on that drop, Pogba was doing what adidas had probably had planned since they signed him. Following its absence from shelves since 2015, the Predator was back, and United midfielder was front and centre of its launch.

The Predator is a boot that only certain players can pull off, demanding the very best by its nature and carving out careers as it progressed. It’s a boot that only certain players can front, and in Paul Pogba adidas had their charismatic ringmaster, the go to man to welcome the return of one of the most iconic boots of all time. This was Pogba taking his first steps as the leading figure in a new era for adidas Football.

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By April 2018, Pogba had his first signature Predator, which headlined the launch of Season 3 of his signature collection. Designed to reflect Pogba's creativity and personality, the new collection arrived with a unique colour scheme of greys and Burgundy, which once again carried across the Predator 18+ ‘PP’ and on to the wider lifestyle pieces

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Roll on the regulation six months – during which time Pogba only went and became a world champion, scoring the third in France’s 4-2 win over Croatia – and Season 4 dropped boasting an all-new signature style for the Predator 18+. It saw a "Black/Olive" cameo-esque upper on a gold soleplate with red to gold stripes proving a splash of added colour, finished with the “Pogba” wording in the original Predator font on the instep and inside the collar. Nice touch.

Come Season 5, which dropped in April 2019, Pogba was able to introduce more of his personality. Arriving in a Manchester United themed colour-combination of red, white and black, the collection was built around Pogba's unique style and passions, specifically drawing inspiration from love of basketball, blending seasonal flair through court, pitch and streetwear scenes. That strong basketball influence was most evident with the Predator 19+ trainer, which was constructed with a blend of football and basketball technology, using tooling from the Harden Vol2 basketball shoe for a distinct silhouette.

Due to an injury, the release of his sixth season was delayed until December 2019, but it still arrived with all the bravado and panache we’d come to expect from what was fast becoming one of football's strongest signature lines. The headlining Predator 19+, typically Pogba, followed the player's sophisticatedly low-key yet statement flair when it comes to streetwear and fashion, using an all black upper, which hosted splashes of "Shock Pink" and "Shock Purple”. The PP logo shimmered in iridescence across the supporting apparel.

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Then we ploughed headlong into a global pandemic, so we didn’t get the next instalment in the signature series until September 2020, arriving just in time for United’s delayed 20/21 season kick off. Landing amongst lockdowns and empty stadiums, Season 7 provided Pogba with a first signature Predator Mutator 20+ and a design that spoke of his position as one of football's foremost creative talents. For that purpose the ‘PP’ logo got an upgrade from what came before, presented in luxury gold in a repeating pattern across the upper – a look inspired by the signature design of Louis Vuitton.

Stepping away from his signature line, Pogba slipped into the adidas x Human Race Predator, which drew on the iconic 1998 Accelerator design, with those chunky Accelerator stripes hugging the boot from underneath, all in those hand draw vibes that were the signature of the whole collection.

A matter of days before EURO 2020 kicked off and as part of the adidas Football Collective movement, the brand launched a five-a-side football pitch in Roissy-en-Brie. Created in collaboration with Pogba, it reflects the legacy of the French player in his home town and aims to be a symbol of inspiration for the next generation. The playground has been created in Pogba’s unique style – a real symbol of the his legacy in the neighbourhood where he grew up – with the aim to pass on the same passion that led him to being a world champion, to new generations. The move was a huge endorsement of the high standing in which Pogba is sill held by the brand.

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And there’s where the journey has remained, progress halted somewhat by that pesky pandemic. But with life reaching some sort of level of normality, certainly on the football pitch at least, a new instalment in the signature series feels long overdue. Just over half way through that 10 year contract, and adidas x Pogba feels like it’s still got plenty to offer…

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