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Squad numberology: Ake, Romeu, Chalobah sport meaningful shirt numbers in preseason friendly

Clive Mason

Chelsea may be wearing shirts without names on them for now during preseason matches, but I think it's safe to say that they aren't just picking them randomly from a pile before each match as if it were Sunday league and the team mom just arrived with the freshly laundered bagful.  JT is 26, now and forever.  Ivanovic was in his usual #2, Matic in the #21, Van Ginkel in the Di Matteo, F.Luis in the A.Cole, and so on and so forth.

Mohamed Salah's teasing looks to have resulted in a switch to Eden Hazard's old #17 (as Hazard himself drops into his preferred #10).  Kurt Zouma may be the biggest #5 we've ever had and his low number may bode well for staying around the Chelsea first team this coming season.  The big teenager may have had a rough few minutes on Wednesday, but preseason is exactly for making and fixing those mistakes.

Similarly, Nathan Aké*, on to replace debutant Filipe Luis at left back, wore a single digit number on Wednesday, the #6 shirt made famous by Marcel Desailly and Ricardo Carvalho.  In previous seasons, that would be seen on Oriol Romeu, who instead wore #20 against RZ Pellets WAC.  In light of those choices, I'd expect both Aké and Romeu to be part of the first-team squad this season.  Though I'd be remiss to mention that was not the case for the #20's previous owner, Josh McEachran (whose whereabouts are still a bit of a mystery).

* Before you ask, hair-cousin Ruud Gullit wore #4.

Fellow youngster Nathaniel Chalobah was seen wearing Eto'o's old Robert Huth-ian number 29, while Matej Delac wore the hallowed #40, i.e. The Hilario.  Delac's lack of a work permit probably does mean a future loan, but anything's possible yet for Chalobah, I feel.  The core of our defense trades in the upper 20s anyway.

The rest of the youngsters all wore numbers in the 30+ range, and while Tomas Kalas and Ryan Bertrand had 33 and 34, respectively last season, I don't think any of the 4 Bs -- Bamford (#35), Baker (#30), Boga (#34), Brown (#32) -- will (or should) stick around the first team just yet.  Same goes for Andreas Christensen (#31), Dom Solanke (#36), John Swift (#33), and Mitchell Beeney (#48).

On the off chance that I'm reading too much into these numbers, please be advised that my fortune-telling services are for entertainment purposes only.  Right, Miss Cleo?  CALL ME NOW!

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