Chelsea appear to have dropped some pretty considerable hints on the transfer front while releasing their squad numbers for the new season.
While the number on a player’s back doesn’t really count for much, fans like to think of it as significant, meaning there’s always a lengthy conversation surrounding it when the announcement comes.
That conversation tends to intensify when the shirt numbers released allude to transfers which could be on the horizon, just as Chelsea’s have as they released them on their official website on Friday.
Perhaps most considerably, Mateo Kovacic has swapped out his previous number ’17’ for the ‘8’, the number made iconic at Stamford Bridge by his former manager Frank Lampard.
The number ‘8’ previously belonged to Ross Barkley, with the decision to give it to Kovacic a pretty concrete suggestion that the former Everton man will be leaving the club before the end of the transfer window.
While Tammy Abraham has been listed as Chelsea’s number ‘9’, there has been no number given to Romelu Lukaku, which suggests that he could be holding out for it, with Abraham’s future at the club in doubt.
Trevoh Chalobah (14), Tino Ajorin (27) and Ethan Ampadu (44) have all been given first-team squad numbers. They could stay with Thomas Tuchel and co this term, rather than heading out on loan.
Of course, this is all subject to change, so we’ll have to wait and see how things develop between now and the transfer deadline before we know for sure who will be wearing what.