Football shirts and their accompanying roll outs continued to level up in 2021, with more care and focus than ever clearly put into the design, ethos and function of kits than ever before.
Brands all across the board have gone to task when it comes to developing their jersey game. It’s not just the likes of adi and Nike who have improved to make 2021/22 look like a champagne campaign when it comes to drip - with New Balance, PUMA, Umbro and Kappa all featuring prominently in this year's list, locked and loaded with future classics galore.
Whether it’s been FC Nordsjaelland weaving in Viking, Ghanaian and Egyptian mythology into the tapestry of a kit that looks like it could be a Vetements collab, or Man City and Barca helping raise awareness for charities and initiatives making the game a better place, there’s a deeper sense of consciousness and care that has shone through in the best shirts we've seen in 2021/22.
Our list for the best shirts of the 2021/22 season are strictly club bangers – with no international federations in the mix in this ranking (you'll have to wait until 2022's World Cup roll out for that). Take in our picks below.
25. Atletico (Third)
Nike got in their Dr Seuss bag for Atletico’s Third Kit for the 2021/22 season, and we’ve got to doth our proverbial to the Swoosh’s Cat In The Hat jersey for the new campaign. Arriving in sky blue with a red and white collar, the design is a truly different look for the Spanish champions that we can fully get behind.
24. Atalanta (Home)
Atalanta and Joma have low-key been delivery some brilliant jerseys over the last few seasons, and this year’s home kit is no different. As understated as it is underrated, this one is one of those simple jerseys that deserve more shine. Arriving in the club's clean blue and black stripes, this one looks good with anything it's paired up with – and is guaranteed to impress all the football hipsters out there.
23. Leeds United (Third)
Lilac is having a moment in the 2021/22 season. With Barca’s Away kit having already creating a splash before the season kicked off, adidas and Leeds jumped on the wave for the release of the club’s Third Kit. Under Marco Biesla, Leeds are enjoying a resurgence of form the club haven’t seen since the mid-noughties – an era which also see the club wear a slew of iconic, Strongbow-sponsored jerseys. Now back up and doing bits, this striking violet kit is befitting of the exciting new era the club finds itself in.
22. Chelsea (Third)
We’ve been wondering how long it would take for Nike to reference ACG in a football collection – but it’s fair to say we weren’t expecting Chelsea to be the club selected with outerwear inspiration in their kits. Implementing colours traditionally associated with Nike’s iconic outdoor imprint, The Blues get blessed with a striking design and clean crew collar that make it a certified, street-ready piece for the new season.
21. Hull (Away)
It’s hard to miss when it comes to black out kits, and Umbro and Hull were bang on target with their effort this season. Murdering out the sponsor, logo and emblem and rounding it off with a clean crew neck? Cash money.
20. Benevento (Home)
There’s been something about Kappa and Nike swapping shirt sponsors with Italian clubs that has been creating greatness this season. While all eyes have been on Kappa’s efforts with Venezia after taking over from Nike, the Benevento Home kit saw magic go down in the opposite direction. Arriving in a trippy checkered pattern in the same style as Croatia's away strip, the red and yellow of pop harder together than any other kit we’ve seen this season.
19. Juventus (Away)
Football and clubbing don’t traditionally go hand in hand )unless you’re Federico Chiesa post-EURO 2020) but Juventus’ 2021/22 Away kit makes it appear as it they’ve always belonged together. The underground music culture of Turin influencing the club’s new fit for the road next season, with the jersey featuring a clean black base accented with colourful lineal accents to represent the luminous lights of club venues and festivals in the city. Club banger.
18. Lille (Away)
Brand: New Balance
New Balance served up a kit befitting of the French Champions this season. Lille get their away day drip in a clean, off white template with regal gold detailing with pops or orange to toast to their silverware from last time around. We were all screaming “Allez Les Dogues!” at our laptops after seeing this one land.
17. West Ham (Home)
Paulo Di Canio scissor kick and Dr. Martens. Those are the first thing you think of when you see this kit, right? Even though that kit was a straight up classic, Umbro have done their best to bring back the ‘eritage vibes with the one. Throwback collar, clean detailing, claret and blue… yeah, it’s decent. Shame about the sponsor but a solid number nonetheless.
16. AS Roma (Away)
Brand: New Balance
It’s fair to say there was a lot of expectation put on New Balance after they took over the reins at Roma this season. But rather than overthinking things, New Balance kept it simple with the club’s away kit – and it worked really well. Clean white template and crew collar with a solid yellow, red, and orange sleeve design? A strong “si” from us.
15. Liverpool (Away)
Liverpool’s social media team knew what they were doing when they got Ibou Konate to unveil the club’s new away kit out in Paris ahead of the 2021/22 season. Featuring a button-down collar and a clean colour template of cream and green that pay homage to Liverpool’s architecture and an iconic LFC Away jersey from 20 years prior, this one is due to write itself into Reds’ kit folklore for years to come.
14. Barcelona (Away)
Barca might have lost the GOAT but Nike might have conjured up an all-time banger with this one. Merging blue and red together to create a purple jersey that pays homage to Barca’s all-conquering women’s team, as soon as we laid eyes on this one we labelled it a future classico. That iridescent detailing is next level, too. Rumours have it that one of the reasons Memphis signed for Barca was because of this kit alone. Purple heart emojis all round for this one.
13. Inter Milan (Home)
While we’re still mourning the loss of Inter’s iconic Pirelli sponsorship deal, Nike continue to serve up the goods from a design point of view for the Nerrazzuri. The kit’s pixelated snakeskin pattern is an ode to the coiled grass snake, or Biscione, that is deeply rooted to Milan’s history, but this kit is very much for the here and now. Super slimey.
12. Orlando Pirates (Home)
Clean black template with a repeated skull and crossbones sublimated into the design? Masaaki Homma would approve. All killer, no filler for a club that have had their fare share of fire kits down the years. This one is a certified future classic though, with clear, timeless appeal in it's stripped back make up.
11. Corinthians (Home)
Nike always tend to do very well with Corinthians jerseys – and the 2021/22 design is no different. The only cracks appearing in their rock solid relationship now appear in the wavey shirt design, which features a black mosaic graphic on a clean white base.
10. Paris Saint Germain (Home)
PSG and Jordan have changed the game in recent years, with the success of their collections visible on streets around the world. This seasons’ Jordan home kit is arguably their best-ever iteration, though – only fitting for the certified All-Star team that now plays in it.
9. Manchester City (Away)
Iridescent shirts have been popping off this season, and none have lit up the pitch better than City’s PUMA Away shirt for the 2021/22 campaign. Dripping on the pitch with a water-inspired design as well as helping to aid access to water for those in need through money raised from shirt sales, this kit is the best effort the Citizens and PUMA have produced together so far.
8. Manchester United (Away)
If people weren’t quite sure on Manchester United’s new shirts ahead of the season they’re certainly convinced on them now the window is over. With shirt sales through the roof for obvious reasons, The Red Devil’s Away strip is the undoubted highlight. The ice cold jersey is based on a classic United design and reinvented for an exciting new era at the club with Sancho, Rashford and Greenwood leading the club forward.
7. Lyon (Third)
adidas and Lyon have served up nothing but greatness in recent seasons, but their design for OL’s third kit for 2021/22 immediately made it one of the standout shirts of recent memory. While opting for clean and traditional templates for the club’s home and away shirts, The Three Stripes switched up the formula for the Third jersey. Featuring a bespoke black and white graphic colour combo reminiscent of the brand’s warm up jerseys from a few seasons back in black and white, the jersey is rounded up with clean, monochrome Three Stripes logo and Lyon emblem and accompanying ‘Fly Emirates’ sponsor. Levels.
6. FC Nordsjaelland (Away)
We could have selected any of Nike and FC Nordsjaelland’s kits from 2021/22 to feature on this list, such are the levels the Norse club have brought to the table this campaign. There’s so much to appreciate here; the clean crew collar, the sublimated graphic on the yellow body, the Ghanian, Viking and Egyptian symbolism, the Vetements-like DHL sponsor… the combination undoubtedly make it one of the most underrated shirts of the season.
5. Real Madrid (Third)
adidas set the levels with Real Madrid’s third kit for the 2021/22 season. The clean emerald jersey looks fresh out of a Karim Benzema drip video, with the shirt design paying homage to the iconic Kilometre Zero plaque in the heart of Madrid. One for all the EQT heads out there.
4. Ajax (Alternate)
adidas and Ajax’s Third Shirt was one of the most hotly-anticipated shirts of the season – and for good reason. The design pays tribute to Bob Marley with Three Little Birds on the back of the collar and the striking, rasatafari-inspired red, gold and green three stripes. adi ensured every little thing was gonna be alright with this jersey, which has lead to the kit already being preserved into the Classic Football Shirts museum.
3. SK Brann (Away)
Can there ever be too many blackout kits? Not for us – and this strong SK Brann x Nike number showcases exactly why. The 2021 design helps to form a blackout kit with a twist with the Swoosh, crest and sponsor printed in reflective material which will show up under floodlights. The coordinates of Brann’s home ground are also embellished in the same reflective detailing to round off a top, top kit.
2. Arsenal (Third)
Merchandise FC Arsenal struck gold again with this one. We’re gonna stick our necks on the line and say this one is the best of the bunch when it comes to adi and Arsenal offerings in the last few seasons. Topping the ‘Bruised Banana’ kit or super-clean home kits are of course no mean feat, but this one is truly special. The graphic, the colours, the crew neck, the detailing… everything about this shirt just hits the mark.
1. Venezia (Home)
What else is there to say that hasn’t already been said about Venezia and Kappa’s kits from this season? Befitting of a city steeped in a rich history of beautiful design and art, the Home jersey for Venezia is nothing short of a masterpiece. Featuring celestial star patterns, ‘Venezia’ written where a kit sponsor would be and a beautiful black design with green and orange trim, Nowhere FC went blind for the Venetians with this one. It's also great to see a brand like Kappa secure top shot from the usual big dogs on the scene with this one – long may their success with shirts continue.