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Rating the impact of the last five players to wear Chelsea’s ‘cursed’ number 9 shirt

Romelu Lukaku is the new Chelsea number nine after completing a record-breaking move from Inter Milan, the west London side spending £97.5m to prise the forward from the San Siro.

Lukaku returns to Chelsea seven years after leaving the club in search of regular first-team football, the Belgium international having since developed into one of the best centre-forwards in Europe.

The 28-year-old will also hopefully help to end the curse of Chelsea’s number nine shirt, with the number having weighed heavy on a number of Lukaku’s predecessors.


We’ve decided to look back at and rate the impact of the last five players to wear Chelsea’s ‘cursed’ number nine shirt.

Fernando Torres

Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign Fernando Torres from Liverpool in 2011, sealing a move for the prolific Spaniard on deadline day of the January transfer window.

Torres had established himself as one of the best centre-forwards in Europe during three-and-a-half seasons on Merseyside, scoring 81 goals in just 142 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions.

The Spanish striker had also proven a regular thorn in Chelsea’s side during his time at Anfield, but struggled to replicate his previous performances following his £50m move to the capital.

Torres failed to score in his first 903 minutes as a Chelsea player and netted just once in 18 appearances across his first six months with the club.

His performances improved the following season as he contributed to Champions League and FA Cup success for the Blues, but injury issues had robbed the star of the explosive pace that made him one of the Premier League’s best at Liverpool.

Europa League success followed in 2012/13 as Torres scored 22 goals in all competitions, but a return of just 20 league goals in four seasons proved a disappointing return for the club’s record investment.

Rating: 6/10

Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao’s disappointing loan spell at Manchester United was not enough to dissuade Chelsea from securing his services the following campaign, the Colombian returning to the Premier League on a second successive loan from Monaco.

Falcao had been arguably Europe’s best out-and-out number nine during spells at Porto and Atletico Madrid, memorably scoring a hat-trick as the latter thrashed Chelsea 4-1 in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup.

A serious knee injury had halted his progress however, and the forward looked a shadow of his former self during a forgettable loan spell at Stamford Bridge during the 2015/16 campaign.

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He scored his first goal in a defeat to Crystal Palace in August, though it would prove the solitary strike of Falcao’s season-long loan as he made just 12 appearances in all competitions.

Chelsea unsurprisingly opted against the £38m option to make the deal permanent.

Rating: 1/10

Alvaro Morata

Chelsea spent big once again in their pursuit of a leading centre-forward during the 2017 summer transfer window, spending a club record £60m to sign Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.

The forward has played his part in successes for both Real Madrid and Juventus, winning two Champions League trophies with the former and two league titles with each club.

The Spain international had largely failed to establish himself as an automatic starter however, with the move to Chelsea providing Morata with an opportunity to thrive as the club’s leading light.

He started brilliantly with seven goals across his first seven league appearances for the west Londoners, but a bright start faded fast as his confidence dropped over the second half of the season.

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Having scored 10 league goals before the turn of the New Year, he managed just one more across the remainder of the season and was left out of Chelsea’s starting line-up for the FA Cup final win over Manchester United.

Morata struggled to regain his place as an automatic starter and was allowed to leave on an initial loan to Atletico Madrid mid-way through his second season.

Rating: 4/10

Gonzalo Higuain

Signed on loan from Juventus as a replacement for the outgoing Morata, the move to Chelsea reunited Higuain with former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri.

Higuain had scored a record-breaking 36 league goals during his final season under Sarri in Naples, before scoring 48 times in 105 league appearances across a three season spell with Juventus.

The Argentina international scored five goals in 14 appearances during his spell with Chelsea, though the west Londoners opted against extending his deal with Higuain looking off the pace for much of his time in the Premier League.

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He returned to Juventus and again reunited with Sarri in Turin, though cancelled his contract by mutual consent just a year later before signing for MLS franchise Inter Miami.

Rating: 2/10

Tammy Abraham

Frank Lampard’s appointment as Chelsea manager saw the long overdue promotion of several academy graduates into the side, including Tammy Abraham following a prolific loan spell at Aston Villa.

Lampard’s faith in the forward was evidenced by Abraham’s designation of the number nine shirt, with the youngster rewarding his manager’s trust with an impressive first season in the senior side.

Abraham scored 18 goals in all competitions to finish as Chelsea’s leading scorer in 2019/20, though the arrivals of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz last summer increased competition for places at Stamford Bridge.

He remained a regular member of the side until the arrival of Thomas Tuchel as Lampard’s successor however, featuring only sporadically under the German over the second half of last season.

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Abraham featured for just 140 minutes in the Premier League under Tuchel and was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the Champions League final win over Manchester City.

Despite his lack of involvement he finished as the Blues’ joint-leading scorer in all competitions, signing for Roma this summer with a record of 30 goals in 82 appearances.

Rating: 6/10

Read – Iconic Performances: Prime R9 dismantles Valencia with a hat-trick for the ages

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