It came as no surprise to see Chelsea dip back into the transfer market for another central striker during the summer of 2022. The Blues, for all of the attacking options at their disposal, have found themselves struggling in that department of late.
Big money has been invested in trying to right a frustrating wrong, but a number of supposedly calculated gambles have backfired – some spectacularly. The latest man to be charged with the task of becoming a reliable focal point at the business end of the field is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 1, 2022
His pedigree is without question, with useful experience in English football brought with him to Stamford Bridge. With Chelsea looking to earn favour in EPL betting tips and prove themselves to be more than just top-four hopefuls, somebody is required to start hitting the back of the net on a regular basis.
The addition of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City should aid that cause, with the England international a four-time Premier League title winner and a man who has mastered his art under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. It is, however, Aubameyang who will be filling the No.9 role.
He has taken on that jersey in west London, and may have done so with a sense of trepidation. Said shirt has hung heavy on the shoulders of many before him and was only available due to the fact that Romelu Lukaku was returned to Inter just 12 months on from becoming a £98 million club-record signing.
Prior to him, the likes of Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao and Alvaro Morata have all tried and failed to fill the most demanding of roles. Gonzalo Higuain, Mateja Kezman and Franco Di Santo can also be added to that pot, while Steve Sidwell and Khalid Boulahrouz have – rather inexplicably – filled the No.9 shirt for Chelsea in recent times.
The challenge facing Aubameyang could not be clearer. He does, however, deserve plenty of credit for having taken it on.
Thomas Tuchel, the man who put a deal for the former Arsenal star in place prior to his surprise dismissal, said of a new recruit attempting to lift a supposed curse at Chelsea: “He is not afraid of the past and what a number means. He is ready to write his own history. Auba is happy to fight for challenges so if he wants to take the No. 9 shirt or he wants to show people in London he is better than they think, then all the better.”
The curse of Chelsea’s No. 9 shirt continues 👻 pic.twitter.com/DnmZQZzumX
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 21, 2022
All eyes will be on Aubameyang as he endeavours to live up to expectations. He is a Premier League Golden Boot winner, with 92 goals recorded during his time in north London at Emirates Stadium, but he now faces an altogether different kind of challenge.
He has tended to operate in a wide attacking role down the years, but is now set to be deployed down the middle. His movement and finishing ability should allow him to thrive in that position, but history has taught us that nothing is ever straightforward when it comes to Chelsea No.9s.