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The Premier League’s twenty* 21s

The Premier League’s twenty* 21s

  • Fans of counting will note that there are actually only 18 number 21s, but a pun in a headline is more important than accuracy

Arsenal – Calum Chambers

One of the Gunners’ longest-serving players – he played alongside current boss Mikel Arteta after joining in 2014 – though he hasn’t featured in the league since the end of December 2019, when he suffered a cruciate injury against Chelsea.

Previously wore 28 and 22 for boyhood club Southampton while he donned 25 and 5 for Middlesbrough and Fulham during loan spells there. The last player before him to wear 21 for Arsenal was Lukasz Fabianski.

Aston Villa – Anwar El Ghazi

The Dutch international wore 21 for Ajax before then switching to 7. He also wore number 7 at Lille before moving to England.

  In his first season at Villa, 2018-19, he was given number 22 but, after Alan Hutton’s departure at the end of that season, he switched to 21.

 

Brighton & Hove Albion – Florin Andone

When the Romanian international joined Brighton in 2018, he was given number 10, which he had also worn for Córdoba and Deportivo La Coruña.

At the beginning of 2019-20, he was sent on loan to Galatasaray, where he wore 23, and 10 was given to Alexis MacAllister, forcing Andone to switch for 2020-21. Number 21 had previously been worn by Ezequiel Schelotto.

Burnley – vacant

One of only two clubs not to currently have a number 21.

The last Burnley player to carry those digits was Nahki Wells, who now does so for Bristol City.

 

 

Chelsea – Ben Chilwell

Having started off with number 30 at Leicester City, as well as wearing 25 on loan at Huddersfield Town, Chilwell was given number 3 for 2016-17.

The presence of Marco Alonso meant the England full-back had to opt for something else at Stamford Bridge, with 21 free after the departure of Davide Zappacosta (now 77 at Genoa).

With Alonso surely in the final stages of his Chelsea career, it will be interesting to see if Chilwell switches to 3 for 2021-22.

Crystal Palace – Connor Wickham

The attacker has worn 21 for Palace since he joined in the 2015-16 season, the only one in which his league appearances for the Eagles were in double figures.

He has previously worn 40 and 9 at Ipswich Town, 10 for Sunderland, 22 and 29 for Sheffield Wednesday and 9 for Leeds United.

Jerome Binnom-Williams was his 21 predecessor at Palace, wearing it for a single season in 2014-15.

Everton – André Gomes

The midfielder joined Everton in 2018 and was given the suitable number 8 but the departure of Muhamed Besic at the end of 2018-19 freed up 21 and Gomes moved.

He had had it at both Valencia and Barcelona, with 89 and then 30 on his back at Benfica prior to that.

 

Fulham – Harrison Reed

The midfielder had a nice progression at Southampton – 38 to 28 to 18 – but after a loan spell at Norwich City, where he wore 4, Mario Lemina took 18 at St Mary’s and Reed had to switch to 19.

Another loan spell at Blackburn saw him again wear 4 but when he joined Fulham on loan for the 2019-20 promotion season he took 21, which had been vacated by Timothy Fosu-Mensah. He kept that after the deal was made permanent.

Leeds United – Pascal Struijk

Belgian-born, the defender/midfielder has represented the Netherlands at underage level.

He never had a senior squad number at Ajax and when he joined Leeds in 2017 he wore number 50. He kept that for three seasons, switching to 34 for 2019-20 before moving to 21 last summer.

Leicester City – Ricardo Pereira

The Portuguese full-back has an affinity with 21, wearing it at each of his clubs.

First donning the number for Vitória Guimarães, he retained it when he moved to Porto but had to make do with 23 for his first season on loan at Nice before switching to 21 for his second season.

Joining Leicester in 2018, he was given 14 but the summer of 2019 saw a triangular swap – the previous holder of 21, Youri Tielemans, pleasingly moved to 8, from where Kelechi Iheanacho switched to 14, allowing Pereira to take his favoured digits.

Liverpool – Konstantinos Tsimikas

The Greek left-back has been limited to the Carabao Cup thus far after joining in the off-season.

At his first club Olympiacos, he wore 46, 41 and 20 before taking 3 while on loan at Danish side Esbjerg. Another loan spell, with Dutch side Willem II, saw him wear 21 and he switched to that upon his return to Greece.

After joining Liverpool, he was able to maintain the practice, with the number free in 2019-20 after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to his preferred number 15.

Manchester City – Ferran Torres

For ten years, the City number 21 shirt was the property of David Silva but the club had no qualms about re-assigning it after his departure at the end of last season.

His compatriot Torres cited Silva as an inspiration. While he had worn 33 and then 20 for Valencia, he said: “When the opportunity to take on the 21 shirt came along, I couldn’t say no.”

Manchester United – Daniel James

At his boyhood club Swansea City, James was allocated 51, 42 and then 20.

With the winger unable to wear 20 at Old Trafford as it was held by Diogo Dalot, 21 was a close substitute, having been left free by the move of Ander Herrera to Paris Saint-Germain.

 

Newcastle United – Ryan Fraser

Goalkeeper Rob Elliot wore 21 for Newcastle from 2012-17 before moving to number 1 for the 2017-18 season.

However, after being usurped by Martin Dubravka in 2018-19, Elliot lost his shirt to the Slovakian at the start of last season and reverted to 21.

He left the club at the end of 2019-20, allowing Scottish winger Fraser to take it. Previously, he wore 43, 30 and 20 at Aberdeen, 20 and 24 for Bournemouth and 14 during a loan spell at Ipswich Town.

Sheffield United – Michael Verrips

One of only two current Premier League number 21s to play in goal, Verrips followed Mark Duffy in wearing it for the Blades.

For his first club Twente, the Dutch netminder wore 13 before joining Sparta Rotterdam, who play in 1-11 rather than using squad numbers. He then wore 1 for Maastricht and 34 for Belgian side Mechelen.

Southampton – vacant

The other unallocated shirt, it was worn by Ryan Bertrand from 2014-15 until the end of 2019-20.

However, as part of Southampton’s big close-season tidy-up, the left back moved to number 3.

 

Tottenham Hotspur – Juan Foyth

In actuality, Foyth is currently a number 8 – oddly for a centre-back – as he is on loan at Villarreal.

He has had 21 for Spurs since he joined in 2017, wearing 29 for Estudiantes in his native Argentina prior to that.

The last player before Foyth to wear 21 for Tottenham was another Argentinian, Federico Fazio.

West Bromwich Albion – Kyle Edwards

The wide midfielder came up through the ranks at West Brom, originally number 42 before halving it in 2018 after returning from a loan stay at Exeter City, where he wore 28.

Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in 2015-16 had been the last player before Edwards to wear 21 for the Baggies.

West Ham United – Angelo Ogbonna

Italia defender Ogbonna has had the number 21 since he joined West Ham in 2015. Morgan Amalfitano had worn it for the two years before that.

For his first club Torino, Ogbonna wore 18 and then 6, also donning 18 while on loan with Crotone, and then he had number 5 for his two seasons at Juventus.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – John Ruddy

Ruddy joined Wolves in 2017 and has bee number 21 since then – in his first year, fellow goalkeepers Carl Ikeme and Will Norris wore 1 and 31 respectively and when Ikeme had to retire, the number 1 was stood down and Rui Patricio fell into the pattern by unusually opting for 11.

For his first club Cambridge United, Ruddy wore 34. He then joined Everton and had 30 for his stay at Goodison Park, during which time he played for various clubs on loan – Walsall (number 32), Stockport County (29 and later 24), Wrexham (33), Bristol City (34), Crewe Alexandra (37) and Motherwell (21). In 2010, he joined Norwich City and wore 1 in his season sevens there before moving to Molineux.

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The Premier League’s twenty* 21s