Liverpool could find themselves with a new number nine this summer following claims on social media that Darwin Nunez is set to inherit the famous shirt.
Roberto Firmino’s exit this summer has made the number available again, with the Brazilian adorning it ever since Mohamed Salah joined the club in the summer of 2017.
Having worn the shirt for Benfica, it would be no surprise if Nunez did indeed change his number for the new season. Wearing number 27 in his first campaign at Anfield, he would also not be the first striker to choose such a number in the absence of an available number nine, due to two and seven adding up to nine.
Of course, with the famous number seven and eight jerseys also available, Nunez might not be the only player who could switch numbers this summer. Luis Diaz to succeed James Milner, anyone?
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Some shirt numbers mean the world to players, with Alexis Mac Allister ditching number eight to take ownership of number 10 at Liverpool. Wearing it at Brighton and earlier in his career, its significance is clear to the Argentina international considering he hails from a country that produced two of the best number 10s the game has ever seen in Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi .
Of course, other players are not so worried. Jamie Carragher and Trent Alexander-Arnold first got 23 and 66 respectively, and those were the numbers they stuck to as the pair became synonymous with such figures.
But with the number of changes in mind, we’ve taken a look at the exclusive (but long!) list of Liverpool players who traded in their original shirts, along with their reasons why…
First the goalkeepers. Nothing really groundbreaking here. When Jerzy Dudek and Alisson Becker joined the club in 2001 and 2018 respectively, the traditional number one shirts were already awarded. As a result, they were forced to choose different digits and adopted number 12 and number 13 instead.
But after a season when number one became available, both shop-stoppers wasted no time in shopping. Of course, the knock-on effect of Alisson taking the number one was at the expense of Loris Karius, who had joined Besiktas on loan, the German switched to number 22 when he returned to Anfield as a permanent exit was out of the question.
David James made a similar switch when the Premier League squad was first introduced ahead of the 1993/94 season. With Bruce Grobbelaar initially number one, he wore 13 before succeeding the Zimbabwean the following summer.
Now, a number of former Liverpool players have been awarded more than two squad numbers during their Reds career after progressing from the club’s academy. But we’re going to overlook the majority, many of whom often don’t even appear in their first shirt numbers, to focus instead on the two main ‘treble holders’.
Steven Gerrard, of course, was number 28 when he broke into the Liverpool team in 1998/99, before trading up to 17 in time for the start of the 2000/01 treble. Yet he apparently always had number eight on his mind and took ownership of it in the summer of 2004 following Emile Heskey’s exit.
Meanwhile, Robbie Fowler first wore number 23 when he broke into the Reds first team in 1993/94, before succeeding Ian Rush as Liverpool’s number nine in the summer of 1996. Left for Leeds United in November 2001, only to return in January 2006 , Djibril Cisse was the owner of the number shirt at the striker’s homecoming. As a result, he briefly wore the number 11 before being given his old number back that summer following the Frenchman’s loan exit.
It’s a team game
Football is a team game, and some players unselfishly surrender their own jersey number at the request of new teammates before adopting a new number themselves.
Firmino is the most obvious example, having worn 11 after first joining Liverpool in the summer of 2015. Yet two years later, Salah asked for the number following his own Reds move, so the Brazilian gave it up and switched to number nine instead.
The same happened to Vladimir Smicer and Jay Spearing when Harry Kewell and Charlie Adam joined the club in 2003 and 2011 respectively. With their new teammates asking for seven and 26, the pair stepped aside and took ownership of the number 11 and 20 shirts .
Youngster Cameron Brannagan also gave up his number 32 shirt and switched to 25 in the summer of 2016 to allow Joel Matip to take on the shirt he had worn throughout his Schalke career.
Andrea Dossena also gave up the number two shirt following the signing of Glen Johnson in the summer of 2009, although the Italian may not have had much to say about this one. After all, he had been deemed surplus to requirements, but having to wait half a season for an Anfield exit, he briefly wore number 38 before leaving for Napoli.
Get me in XI
Sometimes players are just traditionalists and want numbers that are in the first 11, although some are admittedly more glamorous than others.
For example, both Michael Owen and Sadio Mane would snap up the number 10 shirt as soon as it became available, swapping in their respective number 18 and 19 shirts in the process. Likewise, Steven McManaman and Jamie Redknapp joined Fowler in the summer of 1996, inheriting seven and 11 respectively after wearing 17 and 15.
Last summer, Joe Gomez swapped his number 12 shirt for number two, while Sami Hyypia and John Arne Riise initially wore 12 and 18 respectively before taking ownership of four and six.
And spare a thought for Fabio Aurelio. Originally a number 12 but plagued by injuries, he was released by Rafa Benitez in the summer of 2010, only to be re-signed by new manager Roy Hodgson. He wanted a change and a fresh start, hoping for better luck on the injury front, and took over at number six. It did not have the desired effect.
Some players have their favorite numbers, no matter how random they may seem at first, and they adorn them predominantly throughout their careers. But on arrival at Anfield, such figures are sometimes unavailable at first.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wore 15 at Arsenal but spent his first two seasons at Liverpool as their number 21 before Daniel Sturridge’s exit opened the door to his preferred number in the summer of 2019.
Bolo Zenden, Alvaro Arbeloa, Yossi Benayoun and Maxi Rodriguez all also had to be patient to get their preferred numbers. The Dutchman wore number 30 in his first season at Anfield before switching to 32, while the Spaniard spent six months as number two before getting his hands on the number 17 shirt.
Meanwhile, the Israeli and Argentine both had a season in the number 11, or half a season in Maxi’s case, before switching to their preferred 15 and 17 jerseys respectively.
Enjoying two spells at Anfield, Craig Bellamy initially had 17 in the 2006/07 season at Liverpool before being moved on. By the time he returned in the summer of 2011, he had made the number 39 shirt his own elsewhere, then took ownership of it at Anfield.
And then there is Mamadou Sakho. A number three at Paris Saint-Germain, he wore number 17 in his first three seasons at Liverpool before getting his hands on his favorite shirt. Alas, the ownership occurred in the same summer as his infamous spat with Jurgen Klopp, so he never actually ran out of wearing it for the Reds.
One look at the current Liverpool squad and you’ll see that both Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott are in their second Reds number. The former was originally number 48 before switching to 17 in the summer of 2020, as he may look to repeat Gerrard’s path to the number eight shirt.
Meanwhile, his England Under-21 team-mate took number 67 when he first joined the club, referring to the famous number seven shirt, before swapping for number 19 last summer.
Best of the rest
We can’t give you much explanation here, other than players just switching things up to lower numbers.
Neil Ruddock wore 25 before trading to 14, with Danny Murphy a number 24 before adopting his synonymous number 13 shirt, while Steve Harkness wore 22 before switching to 12. Djimi Traore originally wore 30 before switching to 21, Salif Diao wore 21 before gaining weight. 15, and Anthony Le Tallec was a number 20 before adopting number 13.
It might make a bit more sense for youngsters Emiliano Insua, Nabil El Zhar, Damien Plessis, Daniel Pacheco and Jordon Ibe, who were initially given higher numbers.
With the Argentine 48, the Moroccan 42 and the Frenchman and the Spaniard 47, they would later wear 22, 28, 31 and 12 shirts respectively. Meanwhile, Ibe would trade 44 for the number 33 shirt.
The odd one out
And then there’s the odd one. Andy Carroll. He wore the number nine shirt after replacing Fernando Torres at Liverpool in January 2011, yes?
In the Premier League, yes. But not in Europe. With the Spaniard already assigned number nine for the 2010/11 Europa League, Carroll had to choose something else for the rest of the continental campaign. He would be awarded the number 29 shirt but only wore it twice as Kenny Dalglish’s side were eliminated by Braga.