Tuchel: Chelsea players refuse to wear ‘cursed’ No.9 shirt


Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed that “nobody wants to touch” the club’s No. 9 shirt amid fears it may be cursed.
The number is vacant after Romelu Lukaku re-joined Inter Milan on a season-long loan, fuelling speculation it was being left for a possible new signing as the club continues to search for a forward with Barcelona’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Red Bull Salzburg’s Benjamin Sesko under consideration.
Lukaku’s underwhelming campaign at Chelsea last term is just the latest in a series of players to disappoint while wearing No. 9 at Stamford Bridge.
Tammy Abraham scored 18 goals in the 2019-20 season but struggled with injuries and form a year later before joining AS Roma.
Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata, Radamel Falcao and Fernando Torres all arrived at Stamford Bridge with lofty reputations only to struggle to meet expectations — and the club have twice spent a season without a No. 9 in the last decade (2014-15 and 2016-17).
Arguably Chelsea’s last successful incumbent was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who won the Premier League’s Golden Boot in his first season — arriving in 2000 as a then-club record £15m signing from Atletico Madrid — before cementing his popularity until leaving for Middlesbrough in 2004.
Asked why no player in the squad had taken the chance to seize what is usually a highly coveted number, Tuchel said: “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 to come in and naturally take it.
“There was not a big demand for the number nine. Players sometimes want to change numbers but surprisingly nobody wants to touch it.
“Like, everybody who is longer than me in the club, tells me ‘you know he had the nine and didn’t score and he had the nine and he also did not score.’ Now we have a moment, nobody wants to touch the number nine.”