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If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants his dream shirt number at Chelsea, then the former Arsenal striker can copy a tactic used by Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. Aubameyang is reportedly close to joining the Blues from Barcelona in a potential reunion with Thomas Tuchel.
Aubameyang is known to prefer the No 17 shirt. The Gabon international wore the number at Borussia Dortmund and this summer changed from 25 to 17 at Barcelona.
The number is currently occupied at Stamford Bridge by new signing Raheem Sterling. The England international was unable to take his usual No 7 due to N’Golo Kante wearing the digit. Ten and 11, numbers which Sterling has worn for England, were also taken upon his arrival from Manchester City – although 11 has since been relinquished by the departed Timo Werner.
Despite No 17 being taken, Aubameyang could use the tactic Ronaldo used when he joined Man Utd last summer. When the Portugal captain joined the Red Devils, his iconic No 7 shirt was in the hands of striker Edinson Cavani.
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United applied to the Premier League for special dispensation to change Cavani’s squad number to 21 so that Ronaldo could wear the seven. Chelsea could do a similar thing if Aubameyang joins and chooses to wear 17.
The Blues could request that Sterling is allowed to change the digit on his shirt. Werner’s return to Red Bull Leipzig means that the number 11 is now available.
However, Chelsea would likely need to reimburse the thousands of supporters who have bought a shirt with Sterling’s name and the number 17 on the back. United allowed fans with a Cavani 7 shirt to exchange it with a jersey donning 21, the number the Uruguayan adopted following Ronaldo’s arrival from Juventus.
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Alternatively, Aubameyang could take the No 11 shirt or the vacant No 9. The 33-year-old has only worn nine on his back in two seasons during his career – at Dijon and at St Etienne. With the latter club, he switched to No 7 after one season when that digit became available.
It is unlikely that Aubameyang would reprise the No 14 he wore at Arsenal, with defender Trevoh Chalobah donning it since the beginning of last season. Fourteen does not have a cultural significance like it did at Arsenal, where Thierry Henry had famously worn the number.
Aubameyang seems set to be the striker Chelsea sign to replace Romelu Lukaku. Wide-ranging reports suggest that the Blues have already made at least one bid to Barcelona, who only signed Aubameyang in January but need to trim their wage bill.
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