Curse of the Chelsea No.9 shirt strikes Lukaku

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner 30 Dec 2021 19:58 CET 4 min read
Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea, Premier League, 2021/22

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has put his future at Stamford Bridge in jeopardy thanks to a remarkable interview in which he has criticised manager Thomas Tuchel.

Lukaku has experienced a difficult return to the Blues after a club-record £97.5 million move from Inter this summer and has admitted that he is "not happy" with the situation.

He is not the first to suffer in Chelsea’s No.9 shirt, though. Indeed, it has often been one that players have struggled to cope with in the past – even stars of world-class pedigree.

What is the ‘curse’ of the Chelsea No.9 shirt?

Chelsea has been seen as a graveyard of strikers in the past, despite the club’s recent history of being among the elite in both the Premier League and Europe.

Numerous big players have joined the ranks of the Stamford Bridge side and failed. Among them have been Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, who were seen as sure fire hits when they arrived for big money from Milan and Liverpool respectively.

More recently, it is a jersey worn by fans’ favourite Tammy Abraham. While he posted a decent goals-to-game ratio with Chelsea, he was ultimately sold to Roma after being cast off by manager Thomas Tuchel for not providing enough quality in his all-around play.

Andriy Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko

The list of those who have failed in the jersey is long and most recently includes strikers such as Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata and Radamel Falcao, all elite players in their own right.

Indeed, the last players to truly shine at Chelsea with the No.9 on their back were Gianluca Vialli, who played for the Blues from 1996-99, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who featured from 2000-04.

Chelsea's No.9s since 2000

AppsGoals
Tammy Abraham7930
Gonzalo Higuain185
Alvaro Morata 4815
Radamel Falcao121
Fernando Torres17245
Franco Di Santo16-
Steve Sidwell251
Khalid Boulahrouz23-
Hernan Crespo7325
Mateja Kezman417
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink17787
Chris Sutton382

How is Lukaku doing?

On the face of things, Lukaku's record at Chelsea stands up to scrutiny. A return of seven goals from 18 games is not poor by any means, though the club might have had hoped for more given their investment.

Indeed, given that Lukaku has been troubled by injury and illness, these are very respectable figures indeed.

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku

The Belgium international, though, has struggled to fit into Tuchel's tactics and has yet to score many goals of real consequence to his side after netting on his debut against Arsenal.

His declaration of love for Inter, effectively admitting he regrets his decision to leave, will hurt Blues fans, though.

Lukaku's time at Chelsea is certainly not over, but the indications are that he will have to work hard to avoid being another victim of their cursed No.9 jersey.