While he has yet to turn 22, Internazionale defender Federico Dimarco has already gone through quite a few shirt numbers, with the early part of the current season adding two more to his portfolio.
The left-back came through the ranks at Inter, playing for Italy at underage level. He made his senior debut towards the end of the 2014-15 season, wearing 93 – while high numbers like that often match up to the player’s year, Dimarco was born in 1997. His choice could have been so that he had a ‘3’ on his back, but 43, 53, 63, 73 and 83 were all free along with 3 itself, but that had been retired in honour of Giacinto Facchetti in 2006.
Whatever the reasons, Dimarco found himself wearing 11 in 2015-16, but it was for joined Ascoli, whom he had joined on loan, while he spent 2016-17 with Empoli, wearing 4 there.
Good performances in those two loan spells caught the eye of Swiss club Sion, who signed him for €3.91m in the summer of 2017. While he only made nine appearances there, wearing 7, he did feature for the Italy U21 side Inter exercised their buy-back clause of €7m in 2018.
He was again sent away from the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on loan, this time to Parma, and the number 3 shirt for the first time at senior level – though he did wear it in four major underage finals for Italy.
It was while with Parma that Dimarco scored his first Serie A goal – typically, the winner in a 1-0 win over Inter at San Siro and he finally returned to Inter at the beginning of the current campaign.
His old 93 was free – Inter only have three numbers (77, 87 and 95) above 50 this season – he was instead assigned 11, as he had worn at Ascoli.
He had that shirt as he sat on the bench for the first couple of games, but then Inter signed Alexis Sánchez. The Chilean attacker favours 7, but that had been given to Mauro Icardi, who was displaced from 9 by the arrival of Romelu Lukaku.
Sánchez could have worn 17, as he had initially done at Arsenal, but instead he requested 11 and Serie A allowed Dimarco to move to 21 to accommodate that as he had yet to appear on the pitch.
Two days after his arrival, on September 1, Sánchez was an unused sub along with Dimarco as Inter won 2-1 away to Cagliari. Icardi wasn’t involved at all and the following day he joined Paris Saint-Germain.
With 7 vacated, Sánchez moved quickly and, following the Dimarco precedent, he was allowed to switch as he hadn’t played wearing 11. However, Dimarco has stuck with 21.
It reminds us of the situation at Chelsea when Didier Drogba rejoined the club in 2014. The Ivorian striker had worn 11 until his departure, just after scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final, but Brazilian midfielder Oscar had taken it upon his arrival at the start of 2012-13.
As a result, Drogba was allocated number 15, as he had been when he originally arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004. That meant that young Egyptian attacker Mohamed Salah was forced to move from 15 to 17.
Ultimately, though, Drogba was able to wear his favoured 11 as Oscar transferred to number 8, which had been vacated by Frank Lampard. Salah, though, was left with 17 as Dimarco has 21.