Morata number swap leaves Chelsea without a No. 9

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The Spain international striker will be donning the No. 29 jersey for the Blues next season, with the decision taken to move down the squad list

Alvaro Morata has left Chelsea without a No. 9, with the Spanish striker opting to switch his squad number to 29 for the 2018-19 campaign.

Having moved to Stamford Bridge in a club-record £70 million ($91.9m) deal last summer, the 25-year-old was offered the chance to follow in some illustrious footsteps.

Morata happily snapped up a jersey usually offered to leading frontmen, with the Blues expecting big things of a big-money addition.

He was able to contribute 15 goals in his debut campaign, but was more Fernando Torres than Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Morata will be hoping to offer more to the cause in the upcoming season, despite Chelsea’s links to more high-profile additions and uncertainty surrounding his own future, and will take on that challenge free of the pressure No. 9 brings.

Explaining the logic behind his decision to swap numbers, with his wife Alice having given birth to twins on July 29, the Blues new No. 29 told the club’s official website: “It is a day I will never forget, to welcome my twin sons into the world.

“My family is so important to me and I want to honour them and my wife, Alice, when I am on the pitch which is why I have decided to take a different number for the new season and remember this special day by adding the number 2 to my shirt.

“I am sorry to the fans who may have bought a number 9 with my name already, but I hope you understand my tribute and that it will not be a problem and we can make you a new one with the 29.

“Thank you for your support and I hope this year there will be lots more to celebrate.”

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Chelsea have vowed to offer free exchanges to any supporters who have already purchased a Morata jersey with No. 9 on the back, with all returned shirts will be donated to the Chelsea Foundation.

Morata, meanwhile, will get the chance to try and open his account in a new number when last season’s FA Cup winners face reigning Premier League champions Manchester City in the Community Shield.

That contest, which will be held at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, will provide both sides with another opportunity to fine tune their plans for the return of competitive action in the English top-flight.