Nike has introduced a new high-vis Merlin match ball to be used in the Premier League until March of next year, which is its most innovative and advanced technology yet – designed to give players optimum control and accuracy during this season.
Merlin made its debut on the pitch the weekend of October 28 and will also be used in La Liga and Serie A, with is neon highlights and cutting-edge design built for allowing players to have maximum visibility and control.
Why is there a new Premier League ball?
The new Premier League Merlin football (temporarily replacing the regular Merlin) has the capacity to integrate All Conditions Control (ACC), and its introduction as the competition's official ball will solve the issue of the limited daylight in winter to implement more accurate touch and control in all-weather conditions.
In addition to its more adaptive capabilities in harsher winter weathers, it will also allow for players to have better control and capabilities on the ball.
The reduced four-panel construction (instead of the usual twelve panels) of the football has also reduced the number of seams on the ball by 40 per cent, which will eliminate many of the hard spots on the ball – therefore creating "a more pronounced sweet spot".
The white-coloured version of the ball (there are two colours) has a purple hexagon pattern emblazoned across it, adorned with hints of turquoise and neon yellow to give players better visibility of the ball as well as making it easier for them to identify its spin, speed and trajectory.
These colours are 3D-printed onto the ball and "engineered to dry at levels and locations that vary by millimetres" to improve aerodynamics.
"Merlin" was the name given by Nike to the first four balls it provided to the Premier League, between the 2000 and 2004 seasons – though this 2018-19 edition will be the first time it will be used since then.
When will the new Premier League ball be used?
The Premier League Merlin will only be used from October 28, 2018 to March 31, 2019, when the clocks go go forward.
How much does the new Premier League ball cost?
The new Premier League Merlin will cost £104, and it can be purchased on the official Nike website here.