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Torres, Higuain and now Lukaku: The Chelsea No.9 curse continues

  • In recent years, number nine has been most associated with a team’s top striker; however, that has been far from a blessing at Stamford Bridge
  •  The No.9 shirt appears to be cursed at Chelsea, with players struggling while wearing the iconic number at Stamford Bridge
  • Romelu Lukaku is the Newest victim of the curse, and he did struggle at Stamford Bridge; the Belgian international has joined Inter Milan

Despite their collective $208.5 million in transfer fees, the shirt has become somewhat ‘cursed,’ with players struggling at the club while wearing it.

Following the club-record deal to bring Lukaku back to Chelsea last summer, a decade after his first arrival as a teenager from Belgium, that total has now risen to nearly $330 million.

Lukaku has since taken over the No.9 shirt left vacant by Tammy Abraham, who moved to Roma, and has been scoring goals since.

Meanwhile, Lukaku has struggled in West London, looking a million miles away from the striker who led Inter to the Scudetto last season.

Tammy Abraham. Photo: Eurosport

It was delighted by the $119 million signing of Romelu Lukaku, who has high expectations for himself.

Many believed he would be a hit the second time around, now that he was older and wiser. The Premier League pace was also too much for him, and his falling out with his German coach certainly didn’t help.

However, the giant Belgian forward, like his predecessors, flopped.

In total, he scored 15 goals in 44 games across all competitions.

Lukaku was released from Stamford Bridge and loaned to Inter Milan in a$8.5 million deal, with no obligation to buy.

1. Tammy Abraham

After several loan spells, the Chelsea academy graduate was given his chance – and the No.9 shirt – at Stamford Bridge when Frank Lampard took over as manager in 2019.

Abraham’s shirt didn’t appear to be weighing him down as he started the 2019-20 season with ten goals in 12

Premier League appearances.

He could not maintain his blistering form, but he managed 30 goals in 82 appearances while wearing the No.9 jersey.

After steadily declining under Tuchel, the striker joined Jose Mourinho’s Roma for $41.6 million, but the Blues reportedly has a $95  million buy-back clause.

2 Gonzalo Higuain

Gonzalo Higuain. Photo: Skysports

Higuain was signed on loan from Juventus in January 2019 and boldly decided to wear the No.9 shirt.

Chelsea was given the option of purchasing him permanently for $37.8 million or extending his loan for one season for half that amount. The fact that the Blues did neither speaks volumes about his success.

Nonetheless, he did score five times in 14 Premier League games, which is quite good in the context of this list.

 3. Alvaro Morata

Morata cost the Blues a then-club-record $73.4 million in the summer of 2017, but he never seemed to justify the fee.

The Spain international showed promise at times, scoring 11 goals in his first season in the Premier League, but he fell short of filling Diego Costa’s shoes.

4. Fernando Torres

Torres joined Chelsea for $61.2 million in January 2011 after a lengthy period of interest from Abramovich.

Torres, widely regarded as a flop at the club, actually scored 45 goals in 172 appearances, which is a more significant impact than many people realise.

More notably, he assisted Chelsea in winning the Champions League for the first time in their history, scoring that unforgettable goal against Barcelona in the competition’s semi-finals before netting nine goals the following season as they won the Europa League.

5. Falcao

Radamel Falcao. Photo: Eurosport

After a disappointing loan season at Old Trafford, Falcao was given another chance to impress the English public with Chelsea in 2015-16.

However, his loan was a flop, and the Blues turned down the opportunity to sign him for £38 million at the end of the season.

Falcao cost Abramovich £800,000 per shot and £57,000 per touch of the ball while earning £140,000 per week and scoring only once in 12 appearances.

6. Tony Cascarino

Cascarino found it difficult in his two seasons at Etihad at the beginning of the Premier League, scoring only eight goals in 51 appearances.

However, the striker went on to have great success in France, scoring 61 goals in 84 appearances for Marseille and adding 44 more in three seasons at Nancy.

7 . Franco Di Sant

Di Santo joined Chelsea for £3.4 million from Chilean club Audax Italiano in early 2008 and never scored a single goal in 16 competitions.

He moved to Blackburn on loan for the 2009-10 season before being sold to Wigan and playing in the Bundesliga for Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen. 


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