Thomas Tuchel has admitted that ‘no one wants to touch’ the Chelsea No 9 shirt vacated by Romelu Lukaku due to a ‘curse’ that dates back to the days of Fernando Torres.
Lukaku joined Internazionale on loan in June after returning to Stamford Bridge in a club-record £97.5m deal and scoring just 15 goals in 44 appearances last season. Chelsea, who completed the signing of Marc Cucurella from Brighton on Friday in a deal worth up to £62million, are considering a move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona after rejecting the chance to sign Cristiano last month Ronaldo of Manchester United.
The No.9 shirt has been worn by several world-class strikers who have failed to live up to expectations, including Torres, who managed 20 goals in over 100 Premier League appearances between 2011 and 2014, Radamel Falcao, Álvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and Lukaku. . Tuchel has revealed he has gained a reputation for failure at Chelsea.
“It’s cursed, it’s cursed, people tell me it’s cursed,” he said. “It’s not the case that we leave it open for tactical reasons, for some players in the pipeline who come in and take it naturally.
“There wasn’t a big demand for number 9. Players sometimes want to change their number but surprisingly no one wants to touch it. Everyone who is longer than me at the club says to me: ‘Ah, you know, like he had the 9 and he didn’t score and he had the 9 and didn’t score either.” So now we have a moment where nobody wants to touch the No. 9.”
The manager was asked if he was interested in signing a striker, after declining to comment on Aubameyang, who he managed at Borussia Dortmund. “Let’s see and check,” he said. “We come from that curse of No 9; I’m also superstitious, I can understand why players might not touch it and have other preferences. It’s like that, but I think Raheem [Sterling] will help us a lot and in general it’s our responsibility to create more attacking positions to maybe have a few more players in the box.
Chelsea are set to step up their pursuit of Leicester defender Wesley Fofana after his £60million offer was rejected this week, but Tuchel said he was focused on Saturday’s trip to Everton after what he has described as a “turbulent” summer of transfer deals working with co-owner and deputy director of football Todd Boehly.
“You can get lost in all these names and opportunities and suddenly you end up playing a 2-7-1 or whatever,” he said. “You have to refocus and take a cold shower and calm down – or I have to – and then you say, ‘OK, let’s get back to where we needed to be. What do we need for the team and what kind of personality and what kind of talent do we need? And that’s more or less how it goes.
Tuchel added: “It was also quite turbulent here I must say. It was important with the new season starting: are we still trying something? No. It’s Everton now and this process has helped everyone to calm down. Seeing that we are succeeding in the market has also calmed me down and there have been concessions for everyone. The strength of Chelsea is the calmness from inside and also from outside and we need to regain that status.