Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said the No.9 shirt had not been available ahead of a possible signing but because it was believed to be cursed after several players who wore it failed to leave a mark with the London club, he said on Tuesday Friday.
Lukaku was the last to wear the shirt after returning to Chelsea for a club-record fee of £97.5million ($117.69million), but after a lackluster season he returned to Inter Milan, with whom he won the Scudetto 2020-2021.
Several forwards who wore the number 9 shirt – including Hernan Crespo, Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao, Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata – failed to make a mark despite their outstanding track record at Chelsea.
“People tell me it’s cursed … It’s not like we’re leaving it open for tactical reasons,” Tuchel told reporters.
“Surprisingly, nobody wants to touch him. Everyone who’s been here longer than me tells me: ‘Ah, you know, he had the nine and he didn’t hit and he had the nine and didn’t hit either,'” added Tuchel .
“So now we have a moment where no one wants to touch the number nine. I’m superstitious too, I can understand why players might not touch them and have different preferences.”
Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with a move to Chelsea and the No.9 shirt late in the season, although Tuchel has remained vague about another signing before the end of the transfer window.
“Maybe we’ll bring another player, maybe not… We have options but at the same time we know how many games are coming. Let’s see if we can maybe sign another player,” he added.
Tuchel on Friday raised concerns that players could be affected in the months before and after the mid-season World Cup in Qatar, saying the emotions and demands of football’s flagship tournament could exhaust them.
Chelsea start their league game at Everton on Saturday.
($1 = 0.8284 pounds)