Liverpool have broken the bank to make Darwin Nunez their marquee signing of the summer transfer window but, somewhat surprisingly, the £ 85million man has taken the No.27 shirt in the Anfield dressing room.
The Uruguay International, 22, wore 9 is his back for Benfica – the number usually reserved for a center-forward – and has inherited the jersey worn by the departing Reds hero Divock Origi. Many suspected they would be in line for the No.10 shirt, however, as long-time occupant Sadio Mane was edging closer to joining Bayern Munich at the time of his arrival, with the deal subsequently confirmed.
Instead, Nunez may be biding his time and waiting for his favorite No.9 jersey, which is expected to become vacant next summer when Roberto Firmino is out of contract. With that in mind, Mirror Football takes a look at 10 players who could succeed Mane as Liverpool’s No.10 – either this year or next.
Liverpool’s first arrival of the summer window, Carvalho joined the Reds after helping Fulham achieve promotion to the Premier League, chipping in with 11 goals and eight assists for the Cottagers. The winger is only 19, so it would be a big show of faith in his potential to hand him the coveted No.10 shirt.
Interestingly, however, Liverpool are yet to confirm what number they will wear for the club. This could indicate that Jurgen Klopp plans to send the youngster out on loan to continue his development with regular minutes. Alternatively, Carvalho may be waiting for the No.28 shirt he wore for Fulham to become available at the Reds, with current occupant Ben Davies likely to leave this summer.
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The electric Colombian winger was handed the No.23 shirt at Liverpool after joining from Porto in the January window. Diaz quickly established himself as a fan favorite at Anfield and he certainly has the quality befitting a player who wears No.10 – traditionally the most desirable number on the pitch.
That being said, the 25-year-old wore No.7 at his previous club and he may be waiting to inherit that shirt on Merseyside. James Milner has held the jersey since his arrival in 2015 and recently signed a one-year extension, but Diaz could potentially get his hands on it next year.
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The Portuguese forward has worn a host of numbers for club and country throughout his career and is the proud occupant of the No.20 strip at Liverpool.
The 25-year-old has been a big hit for the Reds since arriving from Wolves in 2020 – scoring 34 goals in 85 appearances – and he is another viable contender to ‘upgrade’ to No.10.
Like Carvalho, Elliott is another player with vast potential, but he is also an established member of Klopp’s senior squad. The 19-year-old has made 20 appearances for the Reds, including a run of three consecutive top-flight starts last season before he suffered a serious ankle injury.
Elliott remains the youngest player to feature in the Premier League and, as a gifted and versatile creator, he fits the bill for a player who wears No.10. It would be a statement from Klopp to hand the jersey to the youngster or fellow teenager Carvalho.
The midfielder is a couple of years older than the youngest first-teamers but he has established himself as a regular member of the matchday squad, often at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s expense. Jones, 21, made 27 appearances in all competitions last season and, having been on Liverpool’s books since he was 10, he is a popular figure among the Anfield faithful.
However, he only managed one goal and four assists in all competitions last season, so he appears to be an outside candidate to step up to the No.10 mantle.
Like Jones, the 23-year-old is a Merseyside native and a fan favorite. While No.10 is a highly-unconventional number for a right-back to wear, Alexander-Arnold is a creative force from the flank and registered a colossal 18 assists across all competitions last season – three more than any other Liverpool player.
Arguably the Reds’ greatest passer, the England international has a skillset remarkably similar to a No.10. That being said, he appears intent on forging a legacy as Liverpool’s No.66, continuing to wear the shirt he was handed when he emerged from the academy despite No.2 – the conventional right-back number – becoming available.
Firmino could complete the set of wearing 11, nine and 10 for Liverpool if he makes another switch in the dressing room. The much-loved Brazilian was handed No.11 upon his arrival back in 2015 but switched to No.9 two years later to accommodate Mohamed Salah.
While he plays centrally, Firmino usually operates as the deepest of the forward trio and they would be a fitting option to don 10. However, it does not appear a likely switch given the 30-year-old is out of contract next year and could pursue a new challenge after eight successful years in Merseyside.
Admittedly, it is hard to see this one happening, as the Japanese talisman is heavily linked with a move away from Liverpool this summer. Monaco are in no position to sign Minamino, who has spent two-and-a-half years on the Reds’ books, scoring 14 goals in 55 appearances.
The 27-year-old has had to settle for a minor role under Klopp but made his mark last season, scoring seven goals across the FA Cup and EFL Cup to help his side win the two domestic trophies. If a transfer away doesn’t materialize this summer, perhaps Minamino could move from 18 to 10 in a show of Klopp’s confidence in his ability.
The latest reports suggest Liverpool are finished for the summer in terms of buying, wrapping up their third and final incoming in the form of Calvin Ramsay last week. It is expected sporting director Julian Ward will focus his efforts on making a marquee midfield signing next year, with Bellingham strongly admired among Anfield backroom staff.
The Borussia Dortmund and England wonderkid, 18, typically operates slightly behind where a conventional No.10 would – as a box-to-box midfielder – but he is no stranger to goal involvement, scoring six times and registering 14 assists last season. It would, no doubt, take a huge fee to prize the player – who wears the No.22 shirt now taken by Ramsay for the Reds – from Westphalia next summer, so it may make sense to save the No.10 shirt for what would be one of Liverpool’s biggest-ever transfers.
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Another player linked with a move to the Reds, the West Ham winger enjoyed a spellbinding season, scoring 18 goals and providing 11 assists during a memorable campaign for the Irons. Interestingly, he is one of the few players Klopp has gone out of his way to praise in the recent past, along with the Arsenal talisman Bukayo Saka.
Should Salah leave at the expiration of his contract next summer, Bowen would likely be near the top of Liverpool’s shortlist to replace him. As a creative forward, the 25-year-old would be another obvious candidate to inherit Mane’s No.10, provided it is still available.