New signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not afraid of the supposed curse of the No. 9 shirt at Chelsea and manager Thomas Tuchel said on Friday he expects the Gabon striker to bring a host of qualities to the squad.
Chelsea signed Aubameyang from Barcelona on Thursday’s transfer deadline day as the 33-year-old sealed his return to the Premier League seven months after leaving Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal
Aubameyang will be Chelsea’s newest No. 9, taking over from Romelu Lukaku who rejoined Inter Milan after a lacklustre season at Stamford Bridge.
Several forwards who wore the No. 9 shirt — including Fernando Torres, Radamel Falcao, and Alvaro Morata — failed to leave a mark at Chelsea despite arriving with high expectations, but Tuchel has confidence in Aubameyang.
“If he is brave enough to take the nine (no. 9 shirt), he takes the nine,” Tuchel told reporters ahead of Saturday’s league game at home to West Ham United.
“It’s on us to prove it, for me to find a position, to create enough support for him and on him to finish our attacks. He is not afraid of the past and what a number means. He is ready to write his own history.
“Auba is happy to fight for challenges so if he wants to take the No. 9 shirt or he wants to show people in London he is better than they think, then all the better.”
Tuchel, who previously managed Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund, said he had no concerns over Aubameyang’s discipline and that the striker has a positive attitude.
“He delivers goals and speed and work rate against the ball so it’s a big package he can bring to our group,” Tuchel said, adding that Aubameyang cannot train until next week due to a jaw injury he suffered in an armed robbery at his home in Barcelona.
With Chelsea languishing in 10th in the league after losing to Southampton in their last game, Tuchel urged his team to toughen up ahead of Saturday’s game against West Ham, who are 14th.
“We will show a reaction. It’s proven we can do it with this group so we need to find the right spirit and attitude in all of the matches,” Tuchel said.
Newly signed midfielder Denis Zakaria will not be in the squad for Saturday with the club still working on his work permit, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Reece James will return from injuries. N’Golo Kante remains sidelined.