Thomas Tuchel has backed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to “create his own history” and break the No 9 curse at Chelsea.
Chelsea completed a £10m Deadline Day deal for Aubameyang, reuniting the 33-year-old with his old Borussia Dortmund boss Tuchel.
Aubameyang scored 79 goals in 95 appearances under Tuchel at Dortmund, before switching to Arsenal in 2018.
Chelsea boss Tuchel joked earlier this summer that his players were scared of the No 9 shirt, with the striker’s jersey left vacant after Romelu Lukaku’s loan return to Inter Milan.
Lukaku, Tammy Abraham, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata and more have all failed to make Chelsea’s No 9 shirt their own. But Tuchel hailed Aubameyang for having the bravery to take on that challenge.
“Auba is not afraid of the past and what a number means,” said Tuchel. “He is ready to fight to create his own history, taking the number nine means he is brave enough.
“Auba from my point of view has always been happy to fight for something and to accept the challenge, so the more challenges he has the better it is.”
Aubameyang said he was returning to the Premier League with “unfinished business”, no doubt in a nod to the acrimonious end to his time at Arsenal.
Blues boss Tuchel admitted he will be very happy to see his new striker energised and focused by proving his point.
“If he wants to overcome the No 9 curse, or if he wants to show somebody in London he’s better than certain people think he is, then the more the better,” said Tuchel.
“Because he’s up for that and he’s happy. I know him as (being) very focused and in general a person with a very open heart and very happy to be on the pitch every day.
“This is what we wanted, he’s a very positive influence on the training group.
“He’s up for any challenge, he’s happy to be on the pitch to score goals and this is what we want.”
“So we will start to try with a mask from next week.”