The curse of Chelsea's No.9: Torres, Morata & the flops Higuain will hope to avoid emulating

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Higuain is the latest striker to be handed the number nine shirt at Stamford Bridge – but will he be as unsuccessful as his predecessors?

Gonzalo Higuain recently completed a loan move to Chelsea from AC Milan replacing the hugely disappointing Alvaro Morata, who has departed for Atletico Madrid.

The Argentina international will succeed Morata as the club's new number nine, but that shirt number has not brought much fortune in recent years – with the likes of Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao and Morata himself all failing to live up to expectations. Will Higuain follow in their footsteps?

 

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    Alvaro Morata | £60m | 2017-

    Things were looking bright for Alvaro Morata at Stamford Bridge when he signed for a reported club-record fee of £60 million. He got off to a good start initially, scoring eight goals and bagging four assists in his first 11 Premier League appearances.

    Things turned pear-shaped, however, as he struggled with various injuries. His poor fitness and low confidence contributed to his bad form, which cost him a place with the Spain national team for the 2018 World Cup.

    Underwhelming performances with Chelsea led him to re-sign for Atletico Madrid in January 2019 on an 18-month deal after 12 years away from the club.

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    Radamel Falcao | Loan | 2015-16

    A disastrous loan spell with Manchester United in which Radamel Falcao scored just four goals in 26 appearances didn't stop him from joining Chelsea in 2015.

    He managed to be even worse at Stamford Bridge, netting just once in 12 appearances and spending much of the season on the bench as his former Atletico Madrid team-mate Diego Costa starred on the pitch.

    Falcao returned to Monaco after his loan spell with the Blues and he is still there today.

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    Fernando Torres | £50m | 2011-15

    After the Spaniard made a £50m move from Liverpool to Chelsea in January 2011 – then a British transfer fee record - Torres struggled to recapture his lethal scoring form from Anfield. Indeed, it took him 903 minutes to score his first goal for the Blues.

    'El Nino' developed a reputation for being one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe during his time with Liverpool but declined by the time he moved to Chelsea, managing to score just 11 times in his first full season with the club.

    Torres did have some memorable moments in London, playing a part in their 2012 Champions League win, but returned to hometown club Atletico Madrid in 2016 after a loan stint at AC Milan.

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    Franco Di Santo | £3.4m | 2008-10

    Following a promising start to his career at Chilean side Audax Italiano, Chelsea signed Franco Di Santo for £3.4m in 2008 and he was immediately integrated into the first-team squad.

    The Argentine striker made 16 appearances in the 2008-09 season - though they mostly came from the bench – and he failed to score a single goal.

    Di Santo was then loaned out to Blackburn Rovers, where he managed to score just once in 24 appearances, and eventually signed permanently for Wigan with whom he won the FA Cup in 2013 against Manchester City, though he did not play in the final.

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    Claudio Pizarro | Free | 2007-09

    The former Peru international managed to score just twice in two seasons at Stamford Bridge after arriving on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, where he had struck 71 goals in 174 appearances.

    Pizarro failed to gain a starting berth in London and was then loaned out to Werder Bremen for a season before returning to Bayern Munich in 2012.

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    Steve Sidwell | Free | 2007-08

    Why Chelsea decided to assign the iconic number nine shirt to a midfielder is a mystery in itself – not to mention why they even signed Steve Sidwell in the first place.

    The former England Under-23 international did impress previously with Reading in the Premier League. He bagged 29 goals in 168 games, which earned him a free transfer to Chelsea. Sidwell only lasted a season and a half, however, and left the Bridge with no goals to join Aston Villa in search of more first-team opportunities.

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    Khalid Boulahrouz | £8.5m | 2006-07

    If Sidwell was a strange choice for the number nine shirt, then Boulahrouz – a defender – was downright bizarre. Like Sidwell, he scored no goals during his time at the Bridge.

    A talented defender in his own right, Boulahrouz was mainly used in his Chelsea career as a late substitute, brought on by Jose Mourinho during the final stages of a game in order to see out a lead. He failed to make an impact with the team, however, and left for Stuttgart after two seasons.

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    Hernan Crespo | £16.8m | 2005-06

    Hernan Crespo is a name known to Liverpool fans as the Milan player who scored twice in the 2005 Champions League final that was ultimately won by the Merseysiders.

    Crespo was, at one point, the most expensive footballer in the world after spells with Parma and Lazio in Italy. He decided to cut his teeth in England, but injury problems plagued the Argentine's first season in London. Off-pitch problems led him to move to AC Milan on loan in 2004.

    He then returned to Chelsea after a season, though, and lifted the title with them, ultimately scoring 20 goals in 49 appearances before leaving for Inter in 2006, first on loan and then permanently.

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    Mateja Kezman | £5m | 2004-05

    The former Serbia international was a prolific striker during his time with PSV in the Netherlands, but he came up short in trying to replicate his scoring form in the Premier League.

    After netting 105 league goals with PSV, his £5m fee seemed to be a bargain for the Blues. His goal-scoring struggles, however, were disappointing – managing just seven goals in 41 appearances for Chelsea.

    He did, however, score the winning goal in Chelsea's 3-2 League Cup final win over Liverpool in 2005 before leaving for Atletico Madrid later that summer.

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    Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink | £15m | 2000-04

    Chelsea's first number nine signing of the 21st century was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who they landed for £15m in 2000 from Atletico Madrid.

    One of the more successful number nines in Chelsea's history, he developed a skilled partnership first with Gianfranco Zola and then Eidur Gudjohnsen during his four years at the Bridge. He scooped the Golden Boot in his debut Premier League season with 21 goals, and ended his Chelsea career with 88 strikes in 177 games.