Sergio Aguero says he thinks Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden should be the next proud wearers of his iconic number 10 shirt at Manchester City.
Aguero will depart City after ten years, five of which saw him wear 10 as he broke a number of Premier League records as well as the club’s all-time goalscoring tally.
Whoever takes the squad number next season will have some big shoes to fill – not just Aguero’s but the likes of Shaun Goater, Glyn Pardoe, Mike Doyle and Colin Bell.
With such a big squad number comes a fair bit of responsibility, but while City could use the vacant shirt to reward a current player, it could also be a selling point to whichever big-name striker they choose to pursue this summer. With the club ready to spend big on a world class forward, offering a prominent squad number could be part of selling their vision to any target, who will have their own personal brands in mind when weighing up any deal.
We’ve looked at the contenders who could be the next wearer of City’s number ten shirt.
Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne was Aguero’s first choice, but the striker said he didn’t think his teammate would want it, believing he has worn 17 at former clubs. However, unless he’s grown an attachment to 17 since joining City, De Bruyne hasn’t had that number in the past, so could be persuaded to swap to 10 after signing his new deal this season.
10 would be befitting of a player of De Bruyne’s standard, and his impact on City in recent years.
Foden was the name Aguero settled upon, and that would be some vote of confidence in a player who started the season as a fringe player and looks set to end it as a Champions League final starter.
Who should wear the number ten next season? Have your say in the comments here.
Number ten would be a big promotion for Foden, but not undeserved, and it is a squad number he could conceivably wear in the future. However, he has said in the past that his current number 47 has sentimental value to his family and keeps him grounded, so maybe Foden will be keeping that number for a while longer rather than change.
After trialling a number of options, City’s go-to false nine has been Bernardo Silva, whose tactical game has come on leaps and bounds in the last two years. The no.20 is now a completely versatile option across all six attacking positions, and would be a proud wearer of the no.10 if he was picked for a promotion.
He’s arguably City’s best player, along with De Bruyne, not to have a traditional ‘important’ squad number that reflects their position.
Sterling already wears seven and has the number in his social media handles, but maybe he would value a change to a number that is for more of a versatile attacker than a winger? And if any prospective signings had a particular desire to wear seven, then a switch to ten wouldn’t be too much of a big deal for a forward like Sterling – especially as that’s a number he often wears for England.
Like Sterling, Jesus doesn’t need to change as he’s made no.9 his own in the last two seasons. If the ‘traditional’ roles attached to numbers are anything to go by, though, Jesus is arguably more of a ten than a nine, as he prefers to come deep, link play, and arrive later in the box than play on the shoulder.
Again, if any new signing really wanted nine over ten, a change shouldn’t be seen as a slight for Jesus. However, the Brazilian wears nine for his national team, so maybe he would be keen to keep that consistency.
Now onto the potential new signings, with Erling Haaland continuing to be linked heavily. The Dortmund striker is number nine at the WestfalonStadion, and if he moves to City then the ten is the closest and most prestigious number available.
To have an iconic number inherited from a legend like Aguero feels like a challenge a player as ambitious as Haaland could thrive under. Alternatively, if he really wanted to keep his number nine, then the above change for Jesus might be an option.
Number ten for Spurs and for England, it feels like fate that ten will be free at City this summer just after Kane hinted at a desire to join City (or at least he wants to leave Spurs, stay in the Premier League, and play alongside Kevin De Bruyne).
Nothing more needs to be added – if City want Kane, his number is ready and waiting.
Another famous wearer of the number ten, City have been linked with Messi ever since that eventful week last year where he insisted he wanted to leave Barcelona but ended up staying. Since then, a change of president and the imminent signing of Sergio Aguero might have ended Messi’s stance on leaving, but City have the means to sign the Argentine on a free transfer if it’s an option that becomes available.
And just like Kane, his squad number wouldn’t even be a question.