Manchester City have confirmed that Ferran Torres will inherit David Silva’s famous number 21 shirt, while Nathan Aké will be City’s newest number six.
While Vincent Kompany’s number four shirt has remained vacant at Manchester City since his departure, fellow club legend David Silva will see his shirt taken by City’s newest Spanish magician from Valencia, Ferran Torres.
In addition, Nathan Aké was also handed the number six, which seems a natural choice, although it could mean that City have plans to retire Kompany’s shirt permanently or reserve it for a top new signing such as Kalidou Koulibaly.
In isolation, these seem minor notes, and in reality, they most likely are, but there is a possibility that a deeper subtext exists. Although Torres wore number 20 at Valencia, which is occupied at City by Bernardo Silva, he was faced between a choice of Silva’s 21 or Leroy Sané’s number 19. Given the fact that City have left four, a hugely important number in any squad, vacant despite Aymeric Laporte wearing 14 and having the opportunity to switch, I believed they would do the same with Silva’s 21, and that Torres would inherit 19.
It could mean nothing, but leaving number 19 open could also be relevant. If Lionel Messi is coming to the club, he will naturally warrant taking the number 10 shirt off of Sergio Agüero, much like Argentina. I at first believed he would switch back to number 16, which he wore from his arrival until Edin Džeko left Manchester, but with Rodri holding the shirt, the Spaniard would have most likely taken number six to accommodate Agüero, which is now impossible.
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However, Agüero has worn 19 with Argentina, and leaving the shirt open despite the club’s previous desire to leave legends’ shirts vacant leads me to believe there is at least a possibility that City think they can finalize a deal for Messi. Moreover, if Messi wants to allow his friend to keep the number, the last shirt Messi wore other than 10 was 19 during Ronaldinho’s tenure in Catalonia.
In total, the kit numbers for City’s two summer signings thusfar are in. Whether or not there is more to it is up to interpretation, and it is most likely just player preference rather than strategy on behalf of the club. However, given the inconsistency of reports surrounding a potential Messi deal, even the slightest official hint of the club’s intent, even via something as small as kit numbers, could be meaningful in predicting the future.