First of all, it involves two kit manufacturers and, as you might notice, there isn’t actually a huge change of being unable to tell the strips apart.
In the summer of 1998, Barcelona joined forces with Nike after six years with Kappa and the new shirt was classy and relatively plain, with the addition of navy trim the only real flouish.
It was interesting to note that the Barça crest was above the Nike logo. The shorts and socks were in the darker shade, which was a new departure.
This shirt would only be worn for the first half of the season, with a new centenary jersey introduced for 1999, worn until the end of the 1999-2000 season.
However, while the shirt was short-lived, someone in the Reebok design department must have taken notice because that same 1999-2000 campaign saw Aston Villa wearing something very similar.
Essentially, the only differences were the fact that Villa’s stripes were all the same size whereas the grenadine was thicker than the blue on the Barcelona shirt, while the Villa cuffs had an insert.
Obviously, it’s easy to claim two relatively plain shirts look alike but the neck similarity, and the timeline, do point to some ‘inspiration’ being taken.
Given the colours involved, it’s a bit like La Casaca’s ‘Awayless’ concept, with the red being turned up to claret and the blue turned down to sky. Given that Villa and Chelsea both wore home kits in the 2000 FA Cup final, Barça could have tried something similar for games away to teams in blue, just like they had red and blue change shirts in the 1980s. Improbable, we accept.