Iago Aspas, Liverpool's Number Nine

Denis Doyle

Two of Liverpool's new signings get their shirt numbers, and the heaviest weight falls on Iago Aspas, who's taken the number nine shirt.

One of the greatest features of the Fernando Torres era at Liverpool--aside from the goals and the flowing blonde locks and the general sense that Liverpool were still good at things--was the Torres Bounce, a Kop creation that was recited with great frequency and glee. And while I've never been one to get caught up in shirt numbers as being too meaningful, "Fernando Torres, Liverpool's number nine" was one of the most stirring and resonant phrases in a Liverpool song in recent years.

And then, you know, he left, and while Andy Carroll immediately inherited the number nine shirt, his Liverpool career never really going, and now he's at West Ham and Fernando Torres is at Chelsea and Liverpool's number nine didn't really exist. Until today, at least, when we learned that Iago Aspas will follow in the footsteps of Torres and Carroll, and Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush before them.

The idea that the shirt number carries added weight is romantic and a little silly, though it's hard to ignore the significance of those who've come before; much is made of the fact that Luis Suarez has managed to recapture some of the magic in the number seven shirt that Kenny Dalglish created, and it's likely that Jamie Carragher's 23 and the number eight worn by Steven Gerrard will loom large for those that follow in the years to come.

What matters more than anything at this point is that Iago Aspas (and Simon Mignolet, who inherits the weight of Danny Wilson's 22) helps make Liverpool better than they were before he arrived. If that happens, we'll happily add to the narrative that an ironed-on number somehow enabled him to achieve greatness. If not, he'll just be a player who had a shirt number at Liverpool for a time, which isn't really romantic or iconic in any way. Just ask El-Hadji Diouf.

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