Every Prem club’s most notable vacant squad number

Date published: Friday 29th December 2017 12:29

Vacant numbers: 1, 3 and 5
Formerly held by: Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs and Gabriel Paulista

Those of a Football Manager persuasion will have already correctly identified the positions of Arsenal’s next three signings. Either in January or the summer, the Gunners are guaranteed to be purchasing a new goalkeeper, a new left-back and a new centre-half. Szczesny, Gibbs and Gabriel all vacated their prized shirt numbers this summer, meaning that Arsene Wenger has some work to do to appease the football traditionalists.


Vacant numbers: N/A

Max Gradel has swanned off to Toulouse with Bournemouth’s No. 10 shirt in tow, but the Cherries have filled every other notable squad number. Which is why Eddie Howe should get the England job.


Vacant numbers
: N/A

Brighton have filled every squad number from 1 to 15. Brighton are good boys. Well done Brighton.


Vacant numbers
: 7
Formerly held by: Andre Gray

The Clarets started the season with numbers 4 and 11 vacated, and Andre Gray holding the No. 7 shirt. But the striker’s sale to Watford, combined with the arrivals of Jack Cork and Chris Wood, means that Gray’s old threads are up for grabs.


Vacant numbers
: 8
Formerly held by: Oscar

With Kurt Zouma’s No. 5 shirt in temporary purgatory during his loan at Stoke, Chelsea’s No. 8 shirt – and their No. 12, previously held by John Obi Mikel – is their only notable gap. Jamie Carragher was not discussing Oscar’s choice to leave the Premier League for the riches of China during his peak when describing it is “embarrassing”. He was talking about the disrespect shown to a shirt once worn by club legends such as Frank Lampard, Gus Poyet and Ray Wilkins.


Crystal Palace
Vacant numbers
: 9
Formerly held by: Fraizer Campbell

As if to exemplify the fact that only one of their 18 Premier League goals this season has been scored by a striker, Crystal Palace have preserved the memory of the still living Fraizer Campbell by keeping his No. 9 shirt free. In truth, it is unlikely that any new signing wishes to be lumbered with that weight of expectation.


Vacant numbers
: N/A

Those who claim that Ronald Koeman’s final summer at Goodison Park was a complete failure are ignoring the fact that, of Everton’s squad numbers from 1 through to 11, five were filled before the start of this season. Jordan Pickford (1), Michael Keane (4), Sandro Ramirez (9) and Wayne Rooney (10) were all signed specifically for that reason alone, while the club honoured Yannick Bolasie, who missed the first half of the season, by halving his shirt number from 14 to 7.


Vacant numbers
: 5
Formerly held by: Mark Hudson

The optimist in Sean Scannell will hope to reclaim his No. 7 shirt when he returns on loan from Burton next season. But the No. 5 shirt remains free after Mark Hudson retired and moved into a role in David Wagner’s coaching set-up. Virgil van Dijk will unfortunately not to replacing him and taking his number.


Vacant numbers
: 4
Formerly held by: Danny Drinkwater

Only one squad number from 1 through to 23 is vacant at the King Power Stadium. Danny Drinkwater’s decision to abandon the No. 4 shirt to fill Chelsea’s gap as their No. 6 still rankles in the East Midlands.


Vacant numbers
: 3, 4 and 8
Formerly held by: Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure and Steven Gerrard

With Virgil van Dijk prising the No. 4 shirt from Kolo Toure’s dead hands in January, Liverpool have two more numbers to fill. Mamadou Sakho’s summer departure means the No. 3 shirt is free, while no-one has yet been brave enough to replace Steven Gerrard. The No. 13 shirt has also presumably been retired after Alex Manninger’s exit.


Manchester City
Vacant numbers
: 6, 9 and 11
Formerly held by
: Fernando, Nolito and Aleksandar Kolarov

Despite submitting a list of 66 numbers to the Premier League that goes as high as 91, City also have 12, 13 and 14 available, meaning over a third of the numbers up to 15 are currently up for grabs. Quick maths.


Manchester United
Vacant numbers
: 7
Formerly held by
: Memphis Depay

The No. 7 shirt is revered at Old Trafford, with Beckham, Cantona, Ronaldo and Best among the legends to have worn it. But the magic seems to have come off in the wash over recent years, with Depay, Angel di Maria and Michael Owen all tarnishing it, while Antonio Valencia went to pieces during a year with 7 on his back before changing back to 25 at the earliest possible opportunity.


Vacant numbers
: N/A

Some pre-season fiddling, involving Rob Elliot and Jonjo Shelvey, saw to it that Newcastle filled their 1 to 11. So, nothing to see here…


Vacant numbers
: 1, 6 and 9
Formerly held by
: Fraser Forster, Jose Fonte, Jay Rodríguez

Fraser Forster had a year in the No. 1 jersey last season before deciding he didn’t fancy it and returning to the comfort of 44. He loves alliteration, does big Fraser. Virgil van Dijk’s No. 17 will be vacant in the next week too.


Vacant numbers
: 2
Formerly held by
: Phil Bardsley

The only notable thing about Stoke’s squad numbers is that Glen Johnson wears No.8, which is just weird.


Vacant numbers
: 3 and 9
Formerly held by
: Neil Taylor and Fernando Llorente

The fact that the No. 9 has remained on the peg all season while centre-forward Wilfried Bony wears No. 2 means Swansea should be relegated immediately. As it is, we’ll probably just have to wait until May. The Premier League wouldn’t allow Renato Sanches to wear No.85, which seems to have left him deeply traumatised if his form is anything to go by.


Vacant numbers:
8 and 9
Formerly held by
: Ryan Mason and Vincent Janssen

Fernando Llorente rocked up at Spurs a week before Vincent Janssen was shipped out to Fenerbahce for the season so the Spanish striker has to make do with 18 for this season.


Vacant numbers
: N/A

The No. 7 shirt, adorned previously by the likes of Jose Manuel Jurado, Miguel Layun, Adlene Guedioura, Cristian Battocchio, Mark Yeates and Don Cowie, is currently in transit while Nordin Amrabat has a year in Spain on loan at CD Leganes.


West Brom
Vacant numbers: N/A

The Baggies lose whatever credit they may have received for filling 1-11 by allowing striker Hal Robson-Kanu to wear the No. 4. Down with this sort of thing.


West Ham
Vacant numbers:

Formerly held by:
Darren Randolph

After taking No. 25 rather than No. 1 this season, Joe Hart said: “Having enjoyed so many fantastic moments with that number on my back, I thought why not go back to 25 and see what happens!” And how’s that working out for you, Hart Dog? West Ham retired their No. 6 shirt in 2008 in memory of Bobby Moore, 50 years after his Hammers debut.


Matt Stead and Ian Watson


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