The legacy of La Liga’s shirt numbers: The No.8 shirt

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Andres Iniesta Barcelona 2017-18
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The No.8 shirt has been worn by some of the all-time greats of Spanish football, with this year’s crop looking to leave their own mark on the game

Some of the most important players in the history of the beautiful game have worn this jersey – here’s a run through of the 20 stars sporting it in La Liga Santander this season and 10 legends who wore it in the past.

Toni Kroos, Real Madrid away, 2019-20

The players wearing No. 8 in the 2020/21 La Liga Santander season

Tomas Pina (Deportivo Alaves), Unai Lopez (Athletic Club), Saul Níguez (Atletico Madrid), Miralem Pjanic (Barcelona), Alex Fernandez (Cadiz), Fran Beltran (Celta Vigo), Pape Diop (Eibar), Victor Rodriguez (Elche), Francisco Portillo (Getafe), Yan Brice Eteki (Granada), Eugeni Valderrama (Huesca), Oscar Duarte (Levante), Darko Brasanac (Osasuna), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Kike Perez (Real Valladolid), Joan Jordan (Sevilla), Carlos Soler (Valencia), Juan Foyth (Villarreal)

The No.8 is most commonly worn by midfielders and, in 2020/21, all the occupants of this shirt number in La Liga Santander can be classified as a midfielders with the exception of Villarreal centre-back Juan Foyth and Levante centre-back Oscar Duarte.

The list is full of stars, including World Cup winners Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, who lifted international football’s top honour with France in 2018 and Germany in 2014, respectively.

At Atletico Madrid, Saul Niguez has worn the No.8 since 2016 and, given that he has a contract which commits him to the capital city club until 2026, he’ll surely wear that kit for many more years to come. The Spaniard is a classically versatile box-to-box midfielder, similar to other No.8s such as Joan Jordan at Sevilla or Pape Diop at Eibar.

Several of the No.8s are young players who have their careers all ahead of them, as is the case with the likes of Celta’s Fran Beltran, Valencia’s Carlos Soler and Real Valladolid’s Kike Perez. They’re all already good enough to feature in Spain’s top division, but there’s even more potential to be unlocked in the years to come.

Ten La Liga legends who wore the No.8

Juan Roman Riquelme Jens Lehmann Villarreal Arsenal

Luis Aragones (Atletico Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona), Michel (Real Madrid), Miguel Munoz (Real Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Jon Errasti (Eibar), Juan Roman Riquelme (Villarreal), Julen Guerrero (Athletic Club), Ruben Baraja (Valencia)

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Luis Aragones, one of the most important figures in Spanish football history, wore the No. 8 and made it his own as a player for Atletico Madrid before embarking on an even more successful coaching career not only at Atleti but with the Spanish national team – winning the 2008 European Championships.

An equally iconic number for the Spanish national team as for La Liga, it was another No.8 who produced La Roja’s biggest ever triumph. That man was Andres Iniesta, who actually wore the No.6 for Spain when he scored the winner in the 2010 World Cup final but cemented his legend at Barcelona wearing the club’s no. 8 shirt for over a decade.

At certain clubs, certain numbers have more history than others and the No. 8 has been a particularly special one at Villarreal where it has been worn by Juan Roman Riquelme and Santi Cazorla. They’ve been two of the greatest playmakers of the 21st century, a century that got going with Ruben Baraja wearing No.8 at Valencia and Julen Guerrero doing so at Athletic Club.

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