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Ross Barkley takes Chelsea legend’s shirt number, further fan meltdown incoming

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Soccer - 2014 World Cup - England Media Day - Vale Do Lobo Resort Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Ross Barkley’s signing is proving a rather unpopular one thus far — at least to a vocal minority, as it often tends to happen on social media and Internet comments — with reasonable, if not unanswerable questions being asked of the club, such as why, why him, why now, and why when we have more promising players at the club or out on loan already?

Here’s another thing that’s sure to stick in your craw if you’re already against this move. Ross Barkley will wear the no.8 shirt, which of course belonged to one of Chelsea's greatest players ever, the club’s leading goalscorer of all-time, and the best midfielder the Premier League has ever seen. We’re talking about Manchester City legend Frank Lampard of course! (That last bit is a joke; relax.)

“The 24-year-old has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract and will wear the number 8 shirt,” reads the story on Chelsea’s official website, which means that Barkley is tied down until 2023 (longer than any other player right this minute, though presumably Courtois and Hazard will soon join him).

While the no.8 belonged to Lampard for well over a decade, a few others have worn it, too, since shirt numbers were switched from being assigned by position to being assigned to players. Oscar was the most recent before he was sold off to the Chinese Super League twelve months ago. Gus Poyet, who in a way was a fairly similar player to Barkley, had it before Lampard, while Andy Myers, Mark Hughes, Paul Furlong, and Damian Matthew all had for a season each.

While Barkley has worn the no.8 shirt at Everton at various times both for the first-team and in the youth ranks (the other number associated with him is the no.20), it’s still a bold choice to start his Chelsea career. Incidentally, he’s of a similar age to when Lampard joined (Barkley just turned 24; Lampard was about to turn 23), and with a similar amount of head-scratching about his move. Perhaps that’s a good omen.

“I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started. To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it’s unbelievable for me. I’m looking forward to continuing where I left off at the end of last season and hoping to improve and add more goals to my game.”

-Ross Barkley; source: Chelsea FC

Welcome, Ross Barkley. Time to make your mark.