As the new season begins to creep ever closer, comings and goings mean that various squad numbers are all of a sudden up for grabs.
Just how much a simple number on a shirt can mean to a player is perhaps underestimated by us as fans: just have a look at Hazard and Modric’s disagreement over the no.10 shirt at Real Madrid. The squad number has become a symbol of status, a sign of appreciation and a show of importance.
This summer has already seen some newly-vacated squad numbers snapped up by a host of players, both old and new. We’ve compiled a list of these changes from the top six sides to give you a rundown on the new numbers announced thus far.
Gabriel Jesus: No.9
In what is certainly the highest profile change of the summer, Gabriel Jesus has snapped up the iconic no.9 jersey at Man City. The number hadn’t been in use since the departure of Nolito two summers ago, who took the number from compatriot Alvaro Negredo. Jesus had previously worn the no.33 since his arrival from Palmeiras in 2017.
The Brazilian takes the jersey despite playing second fiddle to Argentine ace Sergio Aguero for much of the past two seasons. Aguero, however, prefers the no.10 jersey.
“It will be an honour to wear the City number nine shirt and I’ll do so with great pride,” Jesus said in an interview with City.
“I hope to score many goals wearing this jersey and help City to more trophies in the coming seasons.
“It’s the number I wear with Brazil and as always, I’ll be giving everything for City when I’m wearing it.”
Let’s just fix that…. Ah, there we go! 😉
3️⃣3️⃣ 👉 9️⃣
— Manchester City (@ManCity) June 22, 2019
Oleksandr Zinchenko: No.11
In another change for an existing City player, the versatile Ukranian has moved from no.35 to take on the jersey last worn by fellow full-back Aleksandar Kolarov.
Zinchenko established himself as first-choice left-back last season ahead of £52m World Cup winner Benjamin Mendy, despite rumours that Guardiola was looking to offload Zinchenko last summer as well as in January. Zinchenko is similar to predecessor Kolarov in terms of style: while not being as athletic as many modern full-backs, both are blessed with wonderful technical ability and a wand of a left foot.
The 22-year-old began as a central midfielder but was moved out to left-back following an injury crisis. He started 10 of City’s last 12 games at the end of 2018/19. City won every Premier League game he appeared in last season.
Daniel James: No.21
Across Manchester, it was announced on Monday that new signing James will wear the no.21 shirt this season.
The 21-year-old will succeed Ander Herrera, who left United following a five-year spell at the club at the end of last season. James wore no.20 at Swansea last season, where he scored four goals as well as registering nine assists.
James became Solskjaer’s first signing as United boss in June, as he signed for a reported £18m.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 1, 2019
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: No.29
Following his huge £50m transfer from Crystal Palace, Aaron Wan-Bissaka will wear the same number that he wore last season in South London.
Interestingly, this is the same number used by former team-mate Wilfried Zaha during his ill-fated spell at United in 2013. The Ivorian joined United for £15m but returned to Palace within two years after a time at Old Trafford which he described as ‘hell’. Wan-Bissaka will be hoping that his time in Manchester does not follow the same path. However, with reported assurances over his first-team place and a manager that was very keen to sign him, it would be surprising if it was to end in the same way.
Angel Gomes: No.28
Despite no official announcement, Gomes was spotted donning the no.28 on his training kit during United’s first pre-season session this week. This number would suggest that the United academy graduate will feature much more heavily next campaign, having previously had no.47.
The 18-year-old has made just three senior appearances for United despite being at the club since he was just six. Highly rated by United fans, the English midfielder will hope that he can make an impact next season as Solskjaer looks to make youth the core of his United side.
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In a change that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Liverpool’s first-choice ‘keeper has finally taken on the no.1 shirt to reflect his importance at the club.
German Loris Karius has given the shirt up as he continues his two-year loan at Besiktas. Alisson will leave the no.13 shirt behind, perhaps ridding it of some of its unlucky connotations following a mightily impressive debut season on Merseyside, ending with a coveted Champions League medal.
Alisson is currently on international duty with Brazil at the Copa America, where he is yet to concede a goal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: No.15
‘The Ox’ has returned to the number that he wore at Arsenal, following the departure of Daniel Sturridge at the end of his contract. This change frees up the no.21 jersey at Anfield.
In a admirable gesture to Liverpool fans, the 25-year-old has pledged to replace every shirt with his old number on the back with a new one ahead of the upcoming season. The England star will hope that he can hit the ground running in 2019/2020, having missed nearly the whole of last season through injury.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 1, 2019
Bernd Leno: No.1
After Petr Cech’s retirement and subsequent return to Chelsea in a technical role, Leno has followed Allison in snapping up the much-coveted no.1 shirt.
Leno wore the no.19 shirt last season at the Emirates despite being Unai Emery’s first choice following his arrival from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2018. The 27-year-old will hope to repay his manager’s faith next season as the Gunners bid to return to the Champions League.