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SOCCER

What jersey number will Lewandowski wear at Barcelona?

Barcelona have reportedly agreed to sign the Poland captain from Bayern Munich for €45m, adding serious firepower to Xavi’s side for the upcoming campaign.

Update:
Depay may make way for Lewandowski to wear nine at Barça
RONNY HARTMANNAFP

FC Barcelona have finally got their man after a protracted pursuit of Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski was reportedly concluded on Friday evening for a fee of €45 million. The Poland striker had made his intention to leave the Allianz Arena clear and while the Bayern hierarchy did enough posturing to save face, there was never any real likelihood of a volte-face from Lewandowski or further heel-digging from the boardroom once the price was right.

Lewandowski spent eight seasons at Bayern Munich after joining from Dortmund in 2014 and won the Bundesliga top scorer award in seven of those campaigns, breaking Gerd Müller’s long-standing single-season league record of 40 goals in 2020-21. In total, Lewandowski scored 344 times in 375 appearances for Bayern, winning eight Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokals and the Champions League, as well as individual awards including the Best FIFA Men’s Player (2020, 2021), the European Golden Shoe (2021, 2022) and a Laureus World Sports Exceptional Achievement Award.

Now Lewandowski has officially signed for Barça, attention has turned to what shirt number he will choose at Camp Nou.

Depay likely to offer up number nine, 11 an option for Lewy

The Poland captain has traditionally worn nine for club and country, having been handed that shirt number in his first professional campaign at Znicz Pruszkow in 2007-08. Upon moving to Lech Poznan the following year, he was handed the number eight, and then he moved to number seven in his first season at Dortmund before inheriting the number nine from Nelson Valdez.

It seems likely that Barcelona’s current number nine, Memphis Depay, will follow the time-honoured tradition of offering up his shirt to the new arrival, assuming the Netherlands forward isn’t moved on himself with Ansu Fati set to return and Lewandowski hardly likely to be spending much time on the bench.

Other options for the prolific Pole are short: the number 11 is vacant after Adama Traoré was returned to Wolves after a loan spell and that might appeal to Lewandowski as he wore that same number briefly during his early days with the national team. That, however, is the only first XI number currently going. Squad numbers available include 15 (formerly Clément Lenglet’s), 16 (vacated by Pedri, who has moved to number eight after Dani Alves cut his second spell at Camp Nou short) and 17, left open by the departure of Luuk de Jong.

Shirts also need to be assigned to new signings Raphinha, Pablo Torre, Franck Kessié and Andreas Christensen. Pending any further departures, and based on LaLiga’s 1-25 rule for squad numbers, the incoming players will have to draw straws for what is available. In any case, it will be a huge surprise if Lewandowski is not holding aloft a shirt with the number nine on the back when he is officially presented at Camp Nou.

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