Thomas Tuchel admitted “no one wants to touch” the number 9 Chelsea shirt vacated by Romelu Lukaku due to a “curse” dating back to the days of Fernando Torres.
Lukaku returned to Inter on loan in June after returning to Stamford Bridge for a club-record fee of £97.5m and scoring just 15 goals in 44 games last season. Chelsea, who completed the signing of Mark Cucurella from Brighton on Friday in a deal that could reach £62m, is considering a move to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona after turning down the option to sign Cristiano Ronaldo last month. from Manchester United.
The number 9 shirt has been worn by several world-class strikers who have fallen short of expectations, including Torres, who scored 20 goals in over 100 Premier League matches between 2011 and 2014, Radamel Falcao, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and Lukaku. . Tuchel revealed that he had developed a reputation for being a loser at Chelsea.
“He’s cursed, he’s cursed, people tell me he’s cursed,” he said. “It’s not like we leave it open for tactical reasons, for some players in development who come in and naturally embrace it.
“There was not much demand for No. 9. Players sometimes want to change numbers, but surprisingly no one wants to touch them. Everyone who is longer than me at the club tells me: “Oh, you know, like he had a 9 and he didn’t score, and he had a 9 and she didn’t score either.” So now we have a moment where no one wants to touch No. 9.”
The manager was asked if he wanted to sign the striker after he declined to comment on Aubameyang, whom he managed at Borussia Dortmund. “Let’s see and check,” he said. “We are descended from this Curse #9; I’m superstitious too, I can understand why players might not touch it and have different preferences. It is, but I think that Raheem [Sterling] it will help us a lot and in general we have to create more attacking positions in order to have a little more players in the box.”
Chelsea are expected to step up their pursuit of Leicester defender Wesley Fofana after their £60m offer was rejected this week, but Tuchel said he was focusing on Saturday’s trip to Everton after what he called a “turbulent” summer of transfer deals with co-owner and deputy director of football Todd Boly.
“You can get lost in all these names and possibilities and all of a sudden you end up playing 2-7-1 or something,” he said. “You need to refocus, take a cold shower and calm down – or I have to – and then you’re like, ‘Okay, let’s get back to where we need to be.’ What do we need for the team, what kind of personalities and what talents do we need?” And that’s how it more or less happens.”
Tuchel added: “I have to say, it was pretty hectic here too. With the beginning of the new season, it was important: are we still trying something? No. Now it’s Everton, and this process has helped everyone calm down. The fact that we are doing well in the marketplace also put my mind at ease and everyone was mutual. Chelsea’s strength is peace of mind both inside and out and we need to achieve that status again.”