Jersey numbers have always been significant in football. What started as means of identification of a player, very quickly translated to the position of the player on the pitch. In this modern era the numbers are not only part of someone’s on field identity but also part of their life beyond the sport. The kit numbers have become part of the social media handles, marketing acronyms and even nicknames. And Real Madrid have a few decisions to make this summer.
Real Madrid are currently undergoing a bit of a transition with a lot of high profile departures. They lost their number 7, 9 and 11 in the same summer. All these numbers are significant and the players wearing them are expected to deliver the goods.
While the number 9 jersey still remains unoccupied, the number 11 was quickly handed over to Rodrygo. It marks his transition from an exciting youth prospect to potentially a consistent starter. The number has been previously worn by world-class wingers like Gareth Bale and Arjen Robben. It was not so lucky for Marco Asensio. Even though his time at the club was overall a success, he finds himself walking away at the age of 27, without ever fully realising his potential.
Real Madrid were very astute in their man management when they handed over the number 5 shirt to Jude Bellingham. It was once occupied by a certain Zinedine Zidane. Thus, the Englishman must know the burden of expectations on his shoulders both literally and figuratively.
Real Madrid and the importance of numbers this summer
Fran Garcia and Brahim Diaz were presented with the number 20 and number 21, respectively, last week. The fact that the predecessors were Vini Jr and Rodrygo will be assuring to both players of how highly the club thinks of them.
Both the numbers are not blockbusters but at Real Madrid have been worn by exciting prospects such as Marco Asensio, Jese, Gonzalo Higuain, Martin Odegaard, Alvaro Morata in the recent past. Brahim actually has a couple of goals and assists wearing the same jersey and would like to carry on the form he showed at AC Milan, which paved his way back to Santiago Bernabeu.
Now onto the biggest decision of the summer. Vinicius was handed the number 7. The number which is already legendary but at Real Madrid has an added layer of aura around it. Worn by the likes of Emilio Butragueno and Raul, the jersey is yet to find a true heir since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
The move to hand over the number to Vinicius should be a moral booster for the player. The performances the Brazilian has been putting in week in week out makes it a well-deserved recognition.
Immediately after Vinicius’ jersey number announcement, there were reports about Kylian Mbappe informing Paris Saint-Germain that he would not be extending his contract beyond the summer of 2024.
With the Brazil national team handing the number 10 to Vinicius in their recent friendly against Guinea, there can be jersey number Roulette next season at Real Madrid. If Mbappe does eventually join the club, the numbers can be swapped or passed around. After all, there is precedent of the same happening with Ronaldo (9 to 7), Benzema (11 to 9) and Ronaldo Nazario (11 to 9).