Romelu Lukaku: Will striker break the curse of Chelsea’s No. 9 shirt?

  • Rob Swan
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Romelu Lukaku is back at Chelsea after seven years away from Stamford Bridge.

The Belgian striker, 28, became the Blues’ record signing last week after completing a £97.5 million move from Inter Milan.

Lukaku has signed a five-year deal with the west London outfit and is expected to become the club’s new No. 9, according to The Daily Mail.

Tammy Abraham previously occupied the number nine shirt but the 23-year-old Englishman has now joined Jose Mourinho at AS Roma.

The £34 million transfer was confirmed on Tuesday morning.

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Assuming Lukaku is then assigned the No. 9, he will be inheriting arguably the most cursed shirt in football.

Chris Sutton wore it during the 1999/2000 season and was a complete disaster at Stamford Bridge, scoring one goal in 28 Premier League appearances.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink then wore the No. 9 between 2000-2004 and performed very well.

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But since Hasselbaink’s departure, 10 different players have worn the No. 9 shirt and, with the possible exception of Abraham, all of them flattered to deceive.

Look away now, Romelu…

MATEJA KEZMAN | 2004-2005

Fee: £5m

Chelsea appearances: 41

Chelsea goals: 7

Signing a prolific striker from the Eredivisie is risky business. For every Ruud van Nistelrooy or Luis Suarez, there’s an Afonso Alves or, yes, Mateja Kezman.

Big things were expected from the Serbian striker following his move from PSV Eindhoven, but seven goals in 41 games was a dismal return.

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HERNAN CRESPO | 2005-2006

Fee: £16.8m

Chelsea appearances: 73

Chelsea goals: 25

Hernan Crespo was widely regarded as one of the world’s best centre-forwards in the mid-2000s but the Argentina international averaged around a goal every three games at Chelsea.

Premier League fans didn’t see Crespo at his world-class best.

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KHALID BOULAHROUZ | 2006-2007

Fee: £8.5m

Chelsea appearances: 20

Chelsea goals: 0

It’s still difficult to work out why Jose Mourinho handed Khalid Boulahrouz - a right-back(!) - Chelsea’s No. 9 shirt.

The Dutch defender wasn’t quite good enough for a top club like Chelsea and he certainly wasn’t good enough to wear the No. 9.

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STEVE SIDWELL | 2007-2008

Fee: Free

Chelsea appearances: 25

Chelsea goals: 1

Like Boulahrouz, it’s also baffling why Steve Sidwell ended up wearing Chelsea’s No. 9 shirt after leaving Reading in 2007.

The tenacious midfielder lasted one season at the Bridge before being offloaded to Aston Villa.

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FRANCO DI SANTO | 2008-2009

Fee: £3.4m

Chelsea appearances: 16

Chelsea goals: 0

At least Franco Di Santo was actually a striker, unlike Boulahrouz and Sidwell.

That said, the Argentine forward failed to make an impact in the Premier League. The move to England probably came a little too early in his career.

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FERNANDO TORRES | 2011-2014

Fee: £50m

Chelsea appearances: 172

Chelsea goals: 45

One of the most infamous signings of the Premier League era, Fernando Torres was a bitter disappointment following his £50 million move from Liverpool in 2011.

The Spaniard still won a host of major honours at Chelsea including the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup but there’s no question that he failed to produce his best form in west London.

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RADAMEL FALCAO | 2015-2016

Fee: Loan

Chelsea appearances: 12

Chelsea goals: 1

Another former world-class striker who struggled badly at Chelsea, Radamel Falcao was a shadow of the player who scored goals for fun with Atletico Madrid and Colombia during his ill-fated spell in England.

He flopped badly at Manchester United but Mourinho still took the gamble, which subsequently backfired.

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ALVARO MORATA | 2017-19

Fee: £70m

Chelsea appearances: 72

Chelsea goals: 24

Alvaro Morata became Chelsea’s record signing when they splashed out £70 million for the Spaniard’s services in 2017.

After scoring 15 goals in 48 games during his debut season with the Blues, Morata switched to the No. 29 shirt.

But the change of number failed to have the desired effect and Morata was offloaded to Atletico Madrid after just two years with the Premier League outfit.

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GONZALO HIGUAIN | 2019

Fee: Loan

Chelsea appearances: 18

Chelsea goals: 5

Yet another revered striker who Chelsea fans never really saw the best of, Higuain netted five goals in 18 games.

The Blues decided against extending the Argentine’s stay and he now plies his trade under Phil Neville at Inter Miami.

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TAMMY ABRAHAM | 2019-2021

Fee: N/A

Chelsea appearances: 79

Chelsea goals: 30

Finally, we come to Abraham, who actually performed pretty well for Chelsea while wearing the No. 9 shirt.

When he initially took the number in 2019, he described talk of a curse as “rubbish”.

But two years later and Abraham has now been sold to Roma…

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Will Lukaku be the player who *finally* breaks the curse of Chelsea’s No. 9 shirt?

He certainly has all the tools to be a big success during his second spell with the Blues.

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