The number 10 is arguably the most prestigious shirt number in world football and one often bestowed upon a club’s leading attacking talent, with Chelsea handing the illustrious shirt to Christian Pulisic ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Pulisic enjoyed an impressive debut season at Stamford Bridge and has now been handed a shirt that will come amid both expectation and pressure, several notable names having adorned the 10 for the Blues since the formation of the Premier League.
We’ve decided to look back at the previous wearers of the Chelsea number 10 in the Premier League era, and rating each of their impacts for the west London side:
Gavin Peacock became one of Glenn Hoddle’s first signings as Chelsea player-manager after impressing in firing Newcastle to promotion from the second tier, with the midfielder scoring on his debut against Blackburn and enjoying an impressive debut season at Stamford Bridge.
Playing in an advanced midfield role, Peacock finished as the club’s leading goalscorer during that first season as Chelsea reached the FA Cup final – the summer signing scoring both goals in a 2-0 semi-final victory over Luton – and established himself as a key figure in Hoddle’s side.
He captained the side for much of the following season and remained a regular until Ruud Gullit’s appointment as manager, falling out-of-favour under the Dutchman before being sold to former club Queens Park Rangers.
The midfielder departed having made over a century of league appearances and having scored 17 goals, whilst he remains one of just three English players – including Frank Lampard and Tammy Abraham – to have scored a Premier League hat-trick for Chelsea.
Chelsea’s desire to build a side capable of winning silverware led to the signing of Mark Hughes during the mid-nineties, a player who had represented European giants in Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich before arriving at Stamford Bridge.
Hughes’ list of honours included two PFA Player of the Year awards and two Premier League titles won during his second spell at Old Trafford, his experience, quality and winning mentality having a hugely positive impact upon an emerging Chelsea.
The Welshman formed a fine partnership with Gianfranco Zola in attack and helped lead the west Londoners to trophy success, playing a key role in the club’s FA Cup success in 1997 before a League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup double the following season.
Hughes spent three seasons with Chelsea and scored 39 goals in 123 appearances in all competitions, finishing his career with short stints at Southampton, Everton and Blackburn.
A sad story of what might have been for Chelsea’s former club-record signing, who made just 10 league appearances for the Blues before injury curtailed his career.
Casiraghi had enjoyed plenty of success in Italian football with the likes of Juventus and Lazio, the athletic and industrious forward winning two UEFA Cups and two Coppa Italia trophies before his move to English football.
Gianluca Vialli had signed his compatriot as part of a foreign invasion at Stamford Bridge, though after just 10 league appearances and a solitary goal disaster struck, a collision with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop in 1998 seeing the Italy international sustain serious knee damage.
Despite two years of rehabilitation and 10 operations, the star was unable to make a comeback, Chelsea terminating the player’s contract in 2000.
Slavisa Jokanovic became the first signing of the Claudio Ranieri era at Chelsea after arriving from Deportivo La Coruna in 2000, the 32-year-old experienced midfielder having spent much of his career in Spanish football.
The former Yugoslavia international made 53 appearances in all competitions over two seasons but was past his best upon arriving in the Premier League, his spell with Chelsea proving rather forgettable.
He returned to Spain for a brief spell upon leaving England before retiring and moving into management, his coaching career having included stints at both Watford and Fulham to date.
Joe Cole emerged as one of English football’s most exciting young talents at West Ham, before crossing the capital to move to Chelsea following the Hammers’ 2003 relegation.
Cole was a naturally talented street-footballer with dazzling skills in possession, and moved to Stamford Bridge as the Roman Abramovich era ushered in a new era of unprecedented investment and success.
The midfielder swiftly became a fans’ favourite with his technique, touch and vision and played an important role in Chelsea’s back-to-back Premier League title successes under Jose Mourinho.
Cole made 282 appearances for the west London side and won six major honours including three league titles, whilst he was named as Chelsea’s Player of the Season as the club reached a maiden Champions League final in 2008.
Cole’s flair and entertaining style were perhaps not utilised to their maximum potential given English football’s move away from the usage of an unshackled number 10, but he was a player who reguarly brought the fun factor and played his part in Chelsea’s emergence as a Premier League superpower.
Yossi Benayoun had acquired cult hero status during spells at West Ham and Liverpool, though his time at Chelsea proved hugely underwhelming after arriving from the latter in 2010.
The Israeli international made just seven league appearances during his debut campaign before being deemed surplus to requirements, joining London rivals Arsenal on a season-long loan deal with his number 10 shirt handed to summer signing Juan Mata.
Benayoun was a fine player for much of his career in the Premier League, though his time at Chelsea saw him struggle to make any form of an impression.
Juan Mata signed for Chelsea with a burgeoning reputation from Valencia in 2011 and wasted little time in making an impact, establishing himself as a hugely popular figure amongst the Blues’ faithful with his performances steeped in creative quality.
Mata’s debut season saw him star as Chelsea became the first London club to win the Champions League, the Spaniard providing the assist for Didier Drogba’s dramatic late equaliser against Bayern Munich in the final.
The west Londoners’ European success came after an earlier FA Cup in a memorable double, Mata having scored in a stunning 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham in the last four.
Named as Chelsea’s Player of the Season following that debut campaign, Mata retained the honour the following season in what stands as one of the most underrated individual seasons of the Premier League era.
The playmaker scored 19 goals and recorded a staggering 35 assists in all competitions, helping Chelsea to further silverware success with Europa League glory.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival as manager sadly and bizarrely brought the beginning of the end for Mata who moved onto Manchester United after falling out-of-favour, his six-and-a-half years at Old Trafford having only shown glimpses of his brilliant Chelsea peak.
Chelsea’s finest number 10 of the Premier League era and amongst the most celebrated players in the club’s modern history, Eden Hazard sparkled during his seven-year spell in English football.
The brilliant Belgian arrived as one of European football’s most promising players in 2012 and swiftly forged a reputation amongst the league’s most captivating talents, his mix of speed, skill and showmanship tormenting opposition defenders.
Hazard’s time with Chelsea saw him enjoy mixed periods but when on-song there were few – if any – better, his success including two Premier League titles amongst a host of major honours.
The first of those title triumphs saw the winger named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, one of three occasions he finished in the top two for the PFA award, whilst he was also named as Chelsea’s Player of the Season on four occasions.
The statistics behind Hazard’s Chelsea career – including 110 goals in all competitions and a wealth of individual accolades – makes for fine reading, but it is the style that went alongside the substance that makes him a firm fans’ favourite.
Flawless close control and bursts of acceleration, the guile and goals that Hazard brought to the Premier League will live long in the memory.
Another player who spent seven seasons of dedicated service with Chelsea, Willian proved a fine acquisition for the Blues after pulling the plug on a move to Tottenham to move to Stamford Bridge.
The Brazil international signed from Anzhi Makhachkala and became a crowd favourite with his mix of industry and work-rate, scoring a series of spectacular goals for the club and forging a reputation as a set-piece specialist.
Willian played his part in two title-winning sides and also added FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League winners’ medals to his collection, whilst he was twice named as Chelsea’s Players’ Player of the Season – his teammates appreciate of the star’s work-ethic and talent.
Initially having adorned the 22 shirt for Chelsea, Willian switched to 10 for his final season at the club, inheriting the shirt from Eden Hazard following his big-money move to Real Madrid.
The winger made 339 appearances in all competitions and scored 63 goals, before deciding on a new challenge with London rivals Arsenal last summer, the Gunners’ superior offer of a three-year deal persuading the 32-year-old to cross the capital divide.
For the third successive season, Chelsea will have a new number 10, Christian Pulisic handed the illustrious shirt following Willian’s aforementioned departure to Arsenal.
The US international is viewed as his nation’s great hope and enjoyed an impressive debut season in the Premier League following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, overcoming a difficult start to thrive in Frank Lampard’s emerging side.
Pulisic’s blend of scintillating speed and attacking quality have seen him emerge as a player Chelsea can build their side around, his form towards the end of last season drawing comparisons to former favourite Hazard.
Injuries have hindered the 22-year-old’s progress despite scoring 11 goals in all competitions during his debut season, though he will hope to overcome those issues to establish himself as a leading Premier League talent.
The youngster certainly has the ability to become a key figure in a promising Chelsea team, the sky seemingly the limit for the club’s newest number 10.