Thomas Tuchel says “nobody wants to touch the number nine” at Chelsea, joking that the shirt is “cursed”.
The Blues begin the 2022-23 season with the number vacant following Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter just a year after he moved back to Stamford Bridge in a record transfer.
Lukaku did not reach the heights expected of him and joined a long list of players who have struggled to deliver for Chelsea while wearing the number nine shirt.
That jersey previously belonged to Mateja Kezman, Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain.
Given the history, Chelsea have found suitors for the number hard to come by, and Tuchel said: “It’s cursed, it’s cursed, people tell me it’s cursed!
“It’s not the case that we leave it open for tactical reasons, or for some players in the pipeline that come in and naturally take it.
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“There was not a big demand for number nine, when like players sometimes want to change numbers. But, surprisingly, nobody wants to touch it.
“Everyone who [has been here] longer than me at the club tells me, ‘ah, you know, like he had the nine and he did not score, and he had the nine and he did also not score’.
“So, now, we have a moment where nobody wants to touch the number nine.”
Raheem Sterling is the sole attacking player Chelsea have signed so far in this transfer window, but he will don the number 17 favoured by fellow wingers Eden Hazard and Pedro.