Chelsea Find Their Number Nine Dream
Alvaro Morata has had a whirlwind start to his career at Chelsea. Since joining the club during the summer`s transfer window, the Spaniard has slotted into his striking role better than some of his predecessors, that have worn the fated number nine shirt.
In four Premier League games Morata has scored three goals and contributed two assists. Strangely enough they have all come courtesy of his head. Once he finds his feet, the world will be his and Chelsea`s oyster.
Some of the players to have worn the 'cursed` nine shirt at Stamford Bridge, and failed to shine include, Tony Cascarino, who was at the club in the early nineties. His 39 appearances returned just seven goals, to be fair to the Ireland international, he arrived at Chelsea in his twilight years.
Other names to have graced the shirt are Chris Sutton, the now BT Sport pundit. His 35 appearance back in the 1999-2000 resulted in just two goals. He was signed off the back of a successful career at Blackburn Rovers, his time at Chelsea was a failure and he was quickly moved on.
Like Tony Cascarino, Mateja Kezman wore the famous blue shirt just 39 times. He was at the club during the 2004-05 season and recorded six goals. For Kezman, it was a dream move. Speaking to Sky Sports in 2011, the Serbian International said,
`Chelsea was the best thing in my career. That was the climax of my career, for sure. Living and playing in London was something that I will never forget. I don't know if I made a mistake because I moved away so quickly. Maybe I do and maybe I don't regret it, but I always believe in my decisions. But the transfer to Chelsea made my dreams come true.`
Well, he may not have been a hit, but nice words, fair play to the man.
There have also been players, who were not strikers, wearing the traditional centre forwards shirt. Players like Khalid Boulahrouz, who was a centre back. Signed from Hamburg in 2006, the Dutchman was another player quickly moved on. He played 20 games for Chelsea, he didn`t score, but then why should he, it wasn`t his job.
Midfielder Steve Sidwell was signed from Reading on a free transfer in 2007, he scored just once against Hull City in the EFL Cup in his 25 games, before leaving for Aston Villa. Signed for free, but moved on for just £5m, at least he gave Chelsea a profit.
Other notable names in the shirt have been South Americans Hernan Crespo and Radamel Falcao, both big names, the fans were desperate to see shine, unfortunately they didn`t. Perhaps the most notable number nine was, like Morata from Spain.
Fernando Torres was signed from LIverpool, for a then club record of £52m. The Spaniard`s career at Liverpool had peaked and the club were keen to move their talisman on. A long time admirer, Roman Abramovich, took the bait. Like the two South Americans, most Chelsea fans welcomed Torres` arrival at Stamford Bridge. There can be no doubt that Torres wanted to succeed as much as the fans, and it could never be said he didn`t try. It never really clicked though, he could not repeat the form he shown at Liverpool and his time at Chelsea was one big frustration.
You couldn`t say Nando was a flop, much as those media folk would like to. He played 182 times for Chelsea, scored 48 times and made 40 assists. He affected half the games he played in. Most notable of those, that semi-final Champions League win against Barcelona, with the backdrop of Gary Neville screaming 'unbelievable`. A night that will never be forgotten.
So, Torres was far from being a flop and for Morata, someone to aspire to. If he can match and ultimately beat his fellow Spaniards record, Morata will go a long way to killing the number nine curse of Stamford Bridge.