Arsenal have endured a complicated relationship with their number nine shirt in the 21st century.
Since the enigmatic Nicolas Anelka, one of the Premier League’s greatest-ever bargains when Arsene Wenger brought him to the club for a meagre £500,000 in 1997, left town before the turn of the millennium, nine players have donned the shirt that’s synonymous with superstardom.
New signing Gabriel Jesus will become the tenth after his official arrival from Manchester City was confirmed.
The Brazilian joins after helping City to four Premier League titles, but his desire to be a protagonist elsewhere meant he fell into the lap of Mikel Arteta after the Gunners beat out several competitors for his signature.
Jesus has plenty of time to blossom into a leader of Arteta’s rebuild in north London and many are hoping that he’ll break the apparent curse that’s attached to Arsenal’s number nine shirt. Although, it’s worth noting that his predecessor, Alexandre Lacazette, didn’t do too bad for himself during his five years at the club.
Every Arsenal player to wear the #9 shirt since 2000 – ranked
So, while there perhaps isn’t a ‘curse’ as such, the lack of talent to don such a revered shirt number for a club of Arsenal’s stature for over 20 years is pretty staggering. Here’s a ranking of all the players to wear the Gunners’ number nine shirt since 2000.
9. Park Chu-Young
This was, quite frankly, an absurd bit of business from Arsenal.
Park arrived late on in the 2011 summer transfer window off the back of an okay-ish spell with Monaco in which he scored 25 times in 91 Ligue 1 appearances. The South Korean looked destined for a move to Lille before the Gunners swooped and completed a deal for a fee in the region of £6m.
Arsene Wenger thought he’d provide sufficient cover for star striker Robin van Persie following the departures of Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela, and Park’s awarding of the number nine shirt depicted Wenger’s faith.
However, Park would be stripped of the shirt following his forgettable debut season and he was released in the summer of 2014 having scored one goal in seven appearances.
Continued on the next slide…