Alvaro Morata was signed by Chelsea for £70 million from Real Madrid this summer and has been handed the number nine jersey for the 2017/2018 season. He was unimpressive during pre-season and also in the Community Shield where he missed a penalty in the 4-1 shootout loss against Arsenal. He was subsequently subject to heavy bantering on social media.
Antonio Conte has defended the player after the Arsenal loss saying “Morata needs to work but that is normal. He is with us and it’s very important to find his condition and for him to understand our football. He needs a bit of time…..”
The number nine shirt at Chelsea seems to have a curse as a couple of players have worn it previously and have failed to succeed since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Hasselbaink was signed in the summer of 2000 for £15 million from Atletico Madrid and he went on to win the golden boot in his first season, scoring 23 league goals. He would end up scoring 88 goals in four seasons at Chelsea.
The Dutchman left Stamford Bridge in 2004 and the next person to take over the number nine jersey was Mateja Kezman whom Jose Mourinho bought from PSV Eindhoven for £5.3 million in July 2004. The Serbian spent just a season and was unimpressive, scoring just seven goals in 40 appearances. He was sold to Atletico Madrid the following year for the same value.
Hernan Crespo was signed by Claudio Ranieri for £16.8 million from Inter Milan in the summer of 2003 but left for AC Milan on loan with Mourinho’s arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2004. Crespo later returned in 2005 and was handed the number nine shirt to compete with Didier Drogba. The Argentine striker had a pretty good spell in West London but could not displace his Ivorian teammate and was subsequently sold back to Inter the following year. He scored 25 goals in 73 games for the Blues.
Chelsea signed Khalid Boulahrouz for £8.5 million from Hamburg in August 2006 and was unveiled with the number nine jersey. This was strange because he was defender. He put in a couple of fine performances but was loaned to Sevilla in 2007 before being sold to Stuttgart in 2008.
Next on the number nine list was Steve Sidwell from Reading in 2007. He only found the back of the net once in 25 games and moved to Aston Villa for £5 million in the summer of 2008.
Franco Di Santo moved to West London from Chilean outfit Audax Italiano in February 2008 but was did not play for the first team until the 2008/2009 season and was handed the number nine jersey. The Argentine made eight substitutes appearances, scoring no goals. He was loaned to Blackburn Rovers the following season before signing for Wigan Athletic.
Fernando Torres was a big money move from Liverpool for a then British record of £50 million but could not live up to the highs of his time at Anfield. The Spaniard scored a total of 45 goals for the Blues – a decline from the 81 goals he banged in on Merseyside.
The next number nine would be Radamel Falcao who joined Chelsea on loan from Monaco ahead of the 2015/2016 season. The Colombian was mainly used a substitute and failed to make any meaningful impact as he battled with fitness issues. He scored only once.
A total of seven players have worn the number nine shirt at Chelsea since Hasselbaink’s departure 13 years ago and the explanations above shows they were all largely disappointing.
Morata played second fiddle at Juventus and his two stints with Real Madrid. This makes many question his hefty £70 million fee. With Diego Costa’s facing an uncertain future at Stamford Bridge, Morata is definitely the main man to lead the Blues frontline but can he be shine in the number nine shirt and break the 13-year curse?
If he does, he could well be on his way to legend status at the club but if he can’t justify his worth, the 20-time capped Spain international is in for a tough time in the British capital.
How many goals do you see Morata scoring this season? Will he quickly adapt to life in England? Let’s have your thoughts in the comments box below.
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