Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has revealed that nobody in the squad wanted to take the club’s infamous number nine shirt this season.
Romelu Lukaku became the latest victim to succumb to the number’s ‘curse’ last season as the £97.5m man netted just eight goals in 25 games, following in the tricky footsteps of fellow victims Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, Radamel Falcao and Mateja Kezman.
The shirt remains vacant this season, and when asked why, Tuchel responded: “It’s cursed. People tell me it’s cursed. It’s not the case that we leave it open for reasons or for some players in the pipeline that naturally could come and take it.
“There was not a big demand for number 9, and sometimes players want to change numbers but surprisingly no one wants to touch it.
“Everyone who is here longer than me in the club tells me, ‘Ah you know, he had the number 9 and he did not score and he also had the number 9 and he did not score. Now we have a moment where no one wants to touch the number 9.”
Tammy Abraham enjoyed relative success wearing the shirt, netting 15 goals in 34 games during his solitary season as a regular starter under Frank Lampard before averaging one goal every 128 minutes under Tuchel in 2020/21.