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The lure of 10

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The lure of 10

  • All of the imagery in this article is taken directly from their online stores, with no manipulation by us
  • Thanks to Danny Puttock for the inspiration:

The current crop of players wearing the number 10 for the ‘top six’ Premier League clubs is packed with stellar names, as you might expect. But, have you ever sat back and thought, “Hold on a minute, none of these players started out with the prestigious number, they have all inherited it?”

Well it’s true: every player from the current top six clubs that currently wears number 10, has inherited it in one way or another. Here’s how they have managed it:

Liverpool – Sadio Mané, 19-10

Let’s start simple, shall we?

Sadio Mané arrived at Anfield having turned in brilliant back-to-back seasons as Southampton’s number 10, but with Philippe Coutinho occupying the number and main playmaker position, he was forced to settle for number 19.

The Kop probably thought that was how things were going to stay long into the future, but,fast-forward 18 months and Coutinho had joined the Barcelona ranks, leaving the number 10 vacant.

A simple enough transition for the Senegal man to adopt the shirt previously worn by John Barnes, Michael Owen and Joe Cole and it seems to have served only to improve him as a player and goalscorer.

Chelsea – Eden Hazard, 17-10

Another relatively simple one to get to grips with, Eden Hazard spent one season at Lille wearing number 10 before Chelsea came calling and put a stop to that.

The arrival of Juan Mata the previous summer meant that the main playmaker’s number was already worn by a diminutive yet endlessly talented footballer.

Hazard was made to settle for number 17, a number he had never previously worn, having been 36 and 26 before picking up the number 10 at Lille, but it kind of suited him.

Mata didn’t hang around for long though and, after winning Chelsea Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, Mourinho decided his time was up and shipped him off to Manchester United, paving the way for a new dawn at Chelsea.

Since then, the Belgian has never looked back, winning four trophies, including two Premier League titles, although he did go missing for an entire season, someone should remind him about that.

Manchester City – Sergio Agüero, 16-10

When Sergio Agüero landed in Manchester, he was widely regarded as one of the most exciting and talented young strikers in the world, having just scored 20 La Liga goals for Atlético Madrid.

Agüero is quite unique in that he was handed the number 10 shirt immediately after being promoted to the Independiente first team and straight after signing for Atletico the following season, meaning that, prior to joining City, number 10 was all he had ever known.

Unluckily for Agüero, Edin Dzeko had also just signed for the club and was already registered as number 10 so the Argentine was forced to settle for number 16.

Luckily for City fans, Agüero went on to create the most iconic moment in the club’s history, wearing that shirt, when he scored the infamous Premier League winner against QPR and wheeled away in celebration – so every cloud and all that.

When Dzeko moved to Roma in 2015, it only made sense that Agüero should fill his boots. He hasn’t been so lucky for Argentina, though –  apparently, someone else wears number 10 for them and Agüero has had to make to do with a procession of varying digits.

Arsenal – Mesut Özil, 11-10

It seems nothing is simple when it comes to Mesut Özil at the moment and his path to the number 10 in no exception.

The retired Germany midfielder had a small mountain to climb to get his hands on the coveted shirt at Real Madrid and when he finally did he looked the part in it.

So he might have been forgiven for being disappointed when he turned up at the Emirates to find out that a crocked Jack Wilshire was the man that the Arsenal fans hailed as their number 10.

Özil has often cited Zinedine Zidane (who never wore the number for any club he represented) as his main inspiration for wanting the number and no sooner did Wilshire leave the club than the World Cup winner swooped in for the number on his back. It replicated the switch of Robin van Persie, who swapped 11 for 10 in 2010.

What has happened since then is one of the most bizarre and unforeseeable declines in the Premier League era.

One of the most creative, talented and highly paid players ever to play in the league has shrunk into the background to become a bit-part player under Unai Emery, something nobody would have envisaged when he was announced as the man to adopt Dennis Bergkamp’s old shirt last summer.

Manchester United – Marcus Rashford, 39-19-10

It already seems like a lifetime ago that Marcus Rashford burst onto the scene with a double against Arsenal.

Since his debut season as a number 39, he has shifted through the gears at Old Trafford, making more than 100 Premier League appearances and becoming a firm fan favourite.

His second season saw him shave his squad number down to 19 while the arrival of Paul Pogba helped United and Rashford add the Europa League and EFL Cup trophies to the FA Cup they had won the season prior.

Having worn the number 10 at United for 11 seasons, Wayne Rooney’s departure opened up the door for a changing of the guard and, after a Zlatan Ibrahimovic experiment went wrong, there seemed only two main candidates – Rashford and Pogba.

Having previously donned the shirt at Juventus, Pogba seemed the obvious choice to trade in the number 6 and take up the mantle so it came as a surprise to some that Rashford was the ultimate beneficiary.

The show of faith has only served to benefit the England man and his teammates as he has gone on to flourish into United’s first-choice striker under the guidance of club legend and new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Tottenham Hotspur – Harry Kane, 37-18-10

Yes, that is the only Premier League font in the Spurs store – presumably any real shirts they send out featuring the proper numbering.

England captain Harry Kane is one of the most feared ‘number 9s’ in world football so is it strange that he wears number 10 for Tottenham Hotspur?

In short, no. It is not uncommon for strikers to opt for the traditional playmaker number and almost a tradition at Spurs with Gary Lineker, Teddy Sheringham and Robbie all favouring 10.

Moreover, Spurs’ recent history of number 9s has not been something to shout about with Roman Pavlyuchenko, Roberto Soldado and Vincent Janssen all failing to hit the mark.

Kane has been able to score goals whatever number he has found himself in but it feels as though he has found a home to stay in wearing the number 10 – but how did he get there?

The 24-year-old was first given the number 37 by Spurs and took it with him on loan spells to Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City.

Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival at the club brought about first team opportunities for Kane who had dropped down to number 18, a previous favourite of Jermaine Defoe.

Kane finished the 2014-15 season as the club’s top goalscorer, an achievement he would go on to replicate for the subsequent four seasons.

The departure of some big name players saw Kane’s options open up and after one season as a number 18, he moved into the number 10 vacated by the outgoing Emmanuel Adebayor.

Goals, shirt sales and the England captaincy are just a few of the things to have followed since he made the switch and there aren’t many people calling him a ‘one season wonder’ either.

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The lure of 10