Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi finally join forces – in the name of fashion

Ahead of World Cup 2022, Louis Vuitton does what no football club has ever managed before, while also unveiling its latest trophy trunk
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi star together in Louis Vuitton's latest campaign
Annie Leibovitz shot for Louis Vuitton

Until one of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi hangs up their boots, the purest of football fans will hold out hopes that somewhere, somehow the two greatest players of all time play together on the same team. With 12 Ballon d’Ors between them (it’s 7-5 to Messi), who wouldn’t what to see such a thing happen? Ronaldo’s fairytale return to Manchester United now a nightmare, last week’s rumours of CR7 heading to Paris Saint Germain to link up with Messi (and his teammates Neymar and Kylian Mbappé) were over sooner than they started. As of today, another Parisian institution has managed to pair them up. Louis Vuitton has unveiled a special brand campaign starring the two goats – with no balls in sight. Instead, they are shooting the breeze over a good old fashioned game of chess (played over a signature LV Damier attaché case no less).

We’re no The Queen’s Gambit experts but do Messi’s king and queen look rather vulnerable? Shot by Annie Leibovitz, the campaign is dubbed ‘Victory is a State of Mind’. Messi probably agrees with the sentiment but it wouldn’t surprise us if Cristiano Ronaldo tried to change it to ‘Victory at All Costs’ with a 2006-esque wink – before calling checkmate on the Argentinian and claiming he’s the best.

Time was when luxury fashion houses wouldn’t touch football with a barge pole. Then along came David Beckham. 2022 has seen a lot of brands get sporty in aid of the World Cup. In the past few weeks there have been football collabs coming out of our ears – Palace x Umbro, Palace x Gucci, Aries x Roma, New Balance x Stone Island, Adidas x NigoMartine Rose footy shirts, we could go on. While some brands are new to embracing footballer fits, LV has been every baller’s obsession for a long time, feeding its football fix more so than others.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi star together in Louis Vuitton's latest campaign

In a similar vein to Messi and Ronaldo, 2010 saw footballing icons Zidane, Maradona and Pele come together for a cheeky game of foosball in a likely-Parisian café (also shot by Leibovitz). In the same year, realising the Fifa World Cup Trophy needed something suitably stylish and safe – it’s valued at more than £15m – to be carried around in, LV became the official trophy travel trunk supplier to the World Cup. The OG Jules Rimet trophy will be reeling from jealousy as its fate could have been so different (it was stolen in 1983). Alas, this year marks the fourth special Louis Vuitton trunk to be crafted for whoever wins – England, Brazil, France? Come December 19 when leaving Doha, the victorious team will gladly have the added pleasure of needing to check in this beauty as extra luggage.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi star together in Louis Vuitton's latest campaign

Given LV’s spirit animal is travel, it’s a natural tie-in with what’s hands down the most watched sporting event in the world – so will be another reason to tune into the first game of World Cup 2022 – Qatar vs Ecuador aka the big one – where it’ll be unveiled. Other sporting partnerships (we talking ones with the NBA, Rugby World Cup, tennis’ Davis Cup and the Monaco Grand Prix) date back to the ‘90s so it’s fair to say victory does tend to “travel in Louis Vuitton”. Fitting then, that Messi and Ronaldo now do, too.