Romelu Lukaku is poised to wear his old Chelsea shirt number after joining the club for a second time.
The Belgian striker has returned to Stamford Bridge in a £97.5 million move from Inter Milan, with European champions Chelsea paying a club-record fee in a huge boost to their title chances this season.
A lot has changed since an 18-year-old Lukaku signed for Chelsea from Anderlecht in 2011 but some things remain the same ten years on.
Welcome home, @RomeluLukaku9. 💙#LukWhosBack pic.twitter.com/P43CAIVqfU
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 12, 2021
That’s because he is set to wear the No.18 shirt for the Blues once again, with the official Premier League website revealing he will be taking the number most recently by Olivier Giroud prior to his switch to AC Milan.
Lukaku is most synonymous with the No.9 and No.10 shirts, which he wore at Manchester United and Everton in the Premier League, but neither were available at Chelsea.
Tammy Abraham’s future is up in the air but he still sports the No.9 shirt at the time of writing, while Christian Pulisic took the No.10 when Eden Hazard left in 2019.
According to PL website, Romelu Lukaku will wear the no.18 shirt at Chelsea.
— Williams ©️ (@CFCNewsReport) August 12, 2021
Romelu #Lukaku will wear the no.18 shirt at Chelsea, according to the Premier League website.#lukwhosback pic.twitter.com/FUo8UsKABv
— BlueSoldiersFC 🇧🇷 (@BlueSoldiersFC) August 12, 2021
There has been no official shirt number announcement from Chelsea and it could be subject to change, especially if Abraham does leave the club this summer after being pushed down the pecking order even further.
If he is the No.18 a decade after he last wore it, Lukaku will be hoping things pan out much differently in West London this time.
In his first season at the club he struggled to adapt and was goalless in 15 appearances. Chelsea won the Champions League in dramatic fashion on penalties, but Lukaku didn’t feel involved in the triumph because of his difficulties.
He then turned in impressive loans with West Brom and Everton, eventually signing for the latter in 2014 for £28 million.
Lukaku found his feet in Merseyside, hitting 71 goals in all competitions in his three seasons as a Toffees player and earning a £75 million transfer to United.
It never quite happened for the 28-year-old at Old Trafford but after two stellar seasons in Serie A with Inter, including leading them to the title last term, Lukaku is back for another crack at the Premier League.
And this time, he feels as though he’s a much more complete player.
“I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club,” Lukaku told the official Chelsea website.
“It’s been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I’m coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.
“The relationship I have with this club means so much to me, as you know. I have supported Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling.
“The way the club is going fits my ambitions perfectly at 28 and just coming off winning Serie A. I think this opportunity comes at the right time and hopefully we can have a lot of success together.”