Best footballs 2021 | Perfect for training, matches & more
Find the best football for every surface and skill level by checking out our ultimate guide for 2021.
There’s only one thing you really need to play the beautiful game: a football.
While you might regularly fork out for a new pair of shin pads, the latest boots or even a set of goalposts for the garden, all of this is rendered completely useless if you don’t have a decent ball to knock around. Whether you play professionally or just enjoy a quick kickabout at the park, you’ll obviously want to be playing with the best football possible.
However, choosing the right ball is actually much more complicated than you might think. Okay, so some of us will make do with just about anything, but modern footballs are now built for specific purposes, skill levels and playing surfaces. If you want to get the most out of your game, you need to make sure you’re playing with the right one.
From premium match balls to cheap footballs perfect for training, this is our ultimate guide on picking out the best footballs possible this season. You’ll be hitting top bins in no time.
How to Choose the Perfect Football
There are literally thousands of footballs out there to choose from. While they’re all essentially the same shape (a square ball would just be plain weird), footballs do come in a range of sizes, produced by various brands and featuring all kinds of different names. It’s all very confusing.
You’re most likely busy scratching your head, wondering which of these options is best for you and what’s actually worth your hard-earned cash. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an easy answer here. There’s no such thing as the “best” football, as your choice completely depends on when, where and how you play.
But there are four main things you need to consider: size, durability, material and, of course, style. These factors will differ between each football, depending on whether they’ve been built for official matches, training, five-a-side or for children. You should check out our guide on football sizes if you’re buying for the little ones.
Basically, it all comes down to what you want, and then searching for the best ball which meets those purposes. Fortunately, you can find all that info a little further down.
Why are Some Footballs so Expensive?
The most expensive footballs are the official match balls used by the professionals, usually FIFA-approved. They make use of the best premium materials currently on the market, while also boasting whatever cutting-edge tech that particular brand has come up with. In terms of overall quality, these are the best footballs money can buy.
Fortunately, the vast majority of us don’t really need to fork out for these elite-level footballs, and we can easily make do with one of the various takedown models. While these cheaper alternatives might look identical to the pricier premium versions, there are huge differences in the materials, construction and overall performance of the ball.
Match footballs: often made from synthetic leather, match balls offer the best flight, strike and performance. Usually used for matches, rather than practise. £50-£130.
Training footballs: more durable than a match ball, training balls typically have a PU exterior and are built to withstand hours of use. The best value option for everyday use. £10-£20.
Astro footballs: these can often be used on both artificial and natural grass pitches, offering great value if you play on multiple surfaces. Great for schools and five-a-side. £10-£20.
Indoor footballs: indoor balls aren’t as bouncy as others, which makes them perfect for indoor playing courts and other hard surfaces. £15-£25.
Futsal footballs: these offer even less bounce, and are ideal for practising skills or playing street football. £10-£20.
There are other footballs out there which you could easily pick up for under a tenner, so think carefully about how much you want to spend. The fact that each brand names their footballs differently probably doesn’t help matters, but you can usually tell which type of ball you’re looking at just from the price.
READ | Our guide on how to choose the best football boots this season.
The 7 Best Footballs You Can Buy in 2021
There’s possibly no such thing as a “bad” football, and I’d quite happily play a bit of keepy-ups with anything that’s vaguely spherical. However, if you’re keen on getting hold of the very best around, it doesn’t get much better than the footballs below.
More importantly, there are takedown versions available for most of these, so you should be able to bag your favourite design at whatever price suits you. Let’s do this.
7. Mitre Cyclone
Price Range: £25
Models Available: Indoor.
This is the quintessential indoor football. It might not look as flashy, exuberant or stylish as some of the other footballs out there, but this is undoubtedly the best option for those who play indoors. Speaking from experience, this will genuinely last you a lifetime.
You can always rely on Mitre footballs for their quality, and this five-a-side classic is certainly no exception. The yellow and purple design has become an icon of the indoor game, offering an insane performance on hard floors alongside an irresistible retro-look. Available in multiple sizes and worth every single penny.
6. Puma Football La Liga 1
Price Range: £14 - £100
Models Available: Match, HYBRID, Mini.
The texture of this football isn’t too dissimilar to a golf ball, and the insane flight on this thing makes you feel like Tiger Woods smashing one down the fairway. Its moulded, textured exterior feels fantastic on-foot, but it’s definitely the La Liga 1’s aerodynamics which makes it stand out - seriously, you’ll be shooting from distance literally every time you can.
While the FIFA-approved match ball can be a little pricey, you can get hold of the HYBRID version for a lot less. Okay, so this doesn’t feature the same awesome exterior, but it’ll last a lot longer and offers much greater value for money, so I recommend going for that if you just want something for training or messing around with.
5. adidas Uniforia
Price Range: £15 - £250
Models Available: Jumbo, Pro, Competition, League, Training, Mini.
Sadly, we won’t get to see the official EURO 2020 ball in action until next year now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of one yourself. In fact, opting for the adidas Uniforia could be a great way of getting over the lack of football this summer - especially if you were really pumped for the Euros.
Following on from the 2018 Telstar, this is yet another fantastic seamless design which is built for the best players on the planet, but the Uniforia also boasts an exuberant neon graphic and black brush strokes. It’s fair to say it catches the eye somewhat, especially if you go for the jumbo size!
If you don’t fancy forking out over £100, you’ll be relieved to hear that adidas have released plenty of cheaper replicas. They all feature the same striking graphic, but you obviously won’t get the same premium feel of the ball used by the pros.
4. Nike Premier League Merlin
Price Range: £15 - £120
Models Available: Strike Pro, Strike, Pitch, Skills.
Footballs really don’t get much more advanced than this. The Nike Merlin has become a staple of the Premier League, and it comes packed with the kind of awesome technology you’d usually see at an Apple press conference. This is very much a football from the future, and it’s an absolute joy to play with.
The use of Nike’s innovative ACC (All Conditions Control) ensures performance isn’t reliant on the weather, and the introduction of Aerow Trac grooves provides unbelievable spin and swerve. Its glorious 4-panel construction also serves up a much larger sweet spot, meaning you could be pinging off screamers in almost no time whatsoever.
There are three colour variations to choose from right now, but I’m personally a huge fan of the T90-inspired yellow winter model. Either way, there’s a bunch of different sizes and takedown versions to get your hands (or feet) on, so there should be something available for players of all budgets.
3. Mitre Delta
Price Range: £15 - £120
Models Available: Max, Plus, Replica, Mini.
The Mitre Delta is the official ball of the FA Cup, with the Max model being used throughout the competition. Thanks to its 14-panel configuration, this feels super speedy when striking or passing the ball, while the lovely textured upper offers incredible accuracy and control. It’s not too bad at all, to be honest.
Its use of Mitre’s innovative Hyperseam technology makes it suitable for practically all weather conditions, too, so you don’t have to worry about it soaking up any excess moisture. The replica and training versions all feature the same white, red and black design, offering an excellent option for players at every level.
2. Nike Flight
Price Range: £22 - £120
Models Available: Elite, Strike
Goalkeepers are going to have an absolute nightmare with this one. The official match ball for the 2020/21 Premier League season, the ground-breaking Nike Flight is the most innovative football on the market right now. It’s also particularly easy on the eye for anyone who loves a good golf ball.
This revolutionary design is, quite simply, unlike anything else you’ve used before. Those cheeky dimples are all about offering a more consistent flight, begging you to smash it into the top corner and running off like you’re Tony Yeboah. Featuring a fuse-welded 4-panel construction, this football offers absolutely incredible accuracy.
After all, a completely smooth ball is more likely to get caught by the wind (we’ve all lost a flyaway or two on the beach), and these awesome Nike AerowSculpt grooves provide much greater stability in the air. Just wait until Kevin De Bruyne gets hold of this bad boy, things could get messy.
1. adidas Finale UCL
Price Range: £14 - £100
Models Available: Match, Competition, Training, Mini.
This is pretty spectacular. Over the past two years, adidas have mixed things up by switching the famous UCL stars to white, while adding colour to the main body of the ball. Overall, these designs have been pretty hit and miss, but this 2020 Finale version is completely bang on the money for me.
The pink and blue graphic (which is an aerial view of Istanbul) is nothing short of sensational, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most colourful Champions League footballs of all-time.Just like the ball used throughout the rest of this season’s competition, the traditional star pattern is a little different than usual, with the stars not quite meeting at their points.
In terms of technology, this is right up there with the Nike Merlin, offering excellent durability, flight and power out on the pitch. Whether you opt for the official match ball, the training ball or something else entirely, you could certainly do a lot worse than this beauty.
If you want to get hold of any of the footballs above, then make sure to compare prices at FOOTY.COM to find the best deal possible. We collate prices from all your favourite retailers, so it’s never been easier to save some extra cash!