Chelsea squad numbers that could become available in 2022/23: Reece James might a lucky winner

Before covid protocols kicked in, swapping shirts was part of the fabric of football.

Taking the sweaty kit off the back of the block you’ve been kicking for 90 minutes always seemed like the sporting thing to do.

But often, the most significant shirt swaps happen from within a club’s own dressing room.

For Chelsea, the changing of squad numbers often signals the changing of an era.

When Juan Mata handed over the number ten to Eden Hazard, the Premier League was truly gifted a new hero.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Frank Lampard’s passing of the number eight to Ross Barkley, unfortunately, went in the opposite direction.

Next season, the Blues could begin another legacy cycle by reshuffling the digits printed on the back of their jerseys once again.

Here are some of the squad numbers that could be shifting in 2022/23:

Defence

Depending if Chelsea can resolve the contract issues of several key defenders, then some big numbers will be up for grabs.

Perhaps the numeral that is most likely to receive a new owner is Antonio Rudiger’s two.

It looks increasingly likely the German will leave Stamford Bridge next summer, therefore he must gift his iconic number to another teammate.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Reece James could be the lucky recipient, considering the right wing-back position belongs to him.

Andreas Christensen is another who is destined for the departure lounge, meaning number four might be available.

Trevoh Chalobah may want to affirm his status as a senior member by taking this particular top, which will in turn put 14 on the market.

Or, N’Golo Kante might fancy a fresh wardrobe and adopt the digits previously worn by Claude Makelele, the player he has drawn so many comparisons to in the past.

Cesar Azpilicueta’s fabled 28 is also possibly up for sale following a decade of service in the same clothes.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

One of the many returning loanees are potentially in line to take the skipper’s shirt, like Conor Gallagher or Billy Gilmour.

Midfield   

Chelsea must decide whether or not to turn Saul Niguez’s loan deal into a permanent one by the end of the campaign.

If they send him back to Atletico Madrid, then 17 will be free to the masses.

Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

As will Ross Barkley’s 18, as the midfielder continues to be linked with a transfer away from the Blues.

In the alternate universe where Kante claims number four, then Mason Mount could go after the number seven.

Available numbers

Tops that are currently accessible are 25, which remarkable hasn’t been worn since Gianfranco Zola in 2002/03.

Another legendary number is John Terry’s 26; certainly, a big shirt size to fill.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kurt Zouma’s 15 is currently vacant, following his move to West Ham United in the summer.

23 is currently ownerless, although it is the item Gilmour left behind when he signed for Norwich City on loan.

27 and 30 are anyone’s game, having previously been possessed by Christensen before he swapped to four and David Luiz before he swapped to Arsenal.  

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.