Thomas Tuchel: Nobody wants to wear ‘cursed’ Chelsea number nine shirt

The number is vacant following the departure of Romelu Lukaku

Nick Purewal
Friday 05 August 2022 22:35 BST

Thomas Tuchel has insisted Chelsea did not deliberately leave the number nine shirt free with a future new signing in mind.

Chelsea’s number nine remains vacant after Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan on loan, and Tuchel said none of the Blues’ current stars wanted to take the shirt.

The Stamford Bridge club will continue to look at adding a striker to their ranks this summer, with Barcelona’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang understood to remain in consideration.

The last six Chelsea stars to wear the nine shirt have struggled for a lasting impact in west London, leaving Tuchel to joke that the Blues’ central striking number still harbours bad luck.

“It’s cursed, it’s cursed, people tell me it’s cursed!” joked Tuchel.

Romelu Lukaku, pictured, has vacated Chelsea’s number nine shirt (John Walton/PA)

“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.

“There was not a big demand for number nine, when like players sometimes want to change numbers. But, surprisingly, nobody wants to touch it.

“Everybody who is longer than me in the club tells me ‘ah, you know, like he had the nine and he did not score and he had the nine and did also not score’.

“So now we have a moment where nobody wants to touch the number nine.”

Tammy Abraham insisted he had no qualms taking on the number nine challenge when sporting the squad number for two years at Chelsea, before heading off to Serie A to impress with Roma.

Abraham still left Chelsea with unfinished business, however, and then Lukaku’s solitary campaign back at Stamford Bridge ended sourly.

Tammy Abraham, pictured, fared better in Chelsea’s number nine shirt than some recent stars (Fabrizio Corradetti/PA)

Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao, Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain have all tried and failed for a lasting impression as Chelsea’s number nine.

Tuchel remains relaxed enough about the situation to have joked openly about it though, and the Blues could yet recruit a central striker who would naturally take the shirt.

Chelsea have pushed hard for a transformative summer under new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, with Marc Cucurella the latest high-profile and big-money recruit.

Tuchel still believes the Blues are in transition but vowed not to limit his team’s potential for the new campaign.

“I think we will not have our highest level we can reach throughout the whole season,” said Tuchel.

“I think that’s normal for everybody but, for us, it’s absolutely normal and we should not be too concerned because it’s been turbulent not only since the new owners are in but also how they came in and the situation before.

Todd Boehly, pictured, has been overseeing Chelsea’s transitional summer (Adam Davy/PA)

“So we did not have the platform to have everything fixed, go on holiday and have the five weeks preparation to know who is in our squad and how do we train.

“There was constant changing within the squad and within the process. I think the first step is to admit it, be fine with it and not to be wanting more than there could be. This is the situation.

“We tried to refocus completely this week on Everton and that’s the right approach because I felt the team refocus, it’s calmed down everybody and I feel we are ready to go to Everton for the win.

“We will see if I’m right. Then we will analyse it and then prepare for Tottenham in the same way and I’m convinced by doing this we will find our shape, we will find our level that we demand of ourselves and it’s like I said, I don’t want to lower our expectations before the season but at the same time I don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves.”

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