Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has taken the ‘cursed’ No 9 shirt at Chelsea after signing on transfer deadline day.
The Gabonese striker moved to Stamford Bridge on the last day of the summer window in a £10million player-plus-cash deal which saw Blues defender Marcos Alonso join Barcelona.
And Aubameyang, who has signed a two-year deal with the Blues, has adopted the number nine vacated by Romelu Lukaku after his return to Inter Milan in June – despite a long history of Chelsea strikers struggling in that shirt.
The 33-year-old veteran worked under manager Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund and links up with the German again after exactly seven months at the Nou Camp.
Aubameyang was ostracised at former club Arsenal by boss Mikel Arteta after several disciplinary breaches, and was allowed to join the Spanish giants on a free, where he scored 13 goals in 23 games in all competitions.
The 72-cap international wore No 17 at Barcelona and No 14 at Arsenal, but wore the number nine for part of his time at Saint-Etienne and with Dijon in France.
Lukaku, signed in August 2021 for £97.5million, only scored eight Premier League goals in a disappointing season and fell out with Tuchel after admitting he was unhappy at the club.
The Belgian has joined a litany of players to struggle under the weight of the shirt, traditionally reserved for central strikers with the pressure and expectation to score goals often following as a result.
Alvaro Morata, Fernando Torres and Radamel Falcao are among the high-profile forwards to disappoint while wearing No 9.
Speaking to the club website, Aubameyang said: ‘I’m really happy. It’s an honour to be part of this team and I can’t wait to start. I have some unfinished business with the Premier League so it’s good to be back and really exciting.’
Meanwhile, chairman Todd Boehly said: ‘Pierre-Emerick is an elite striker with a proven track record in the Premier League and his arrival strengthens our squad, giving us new attacking options.
‘We are thrilled to have Pierre-Emerick on board with us in the new era at Chelsea and we’re really looking forward to working with him.’