Former Middlesbrough hero Martin Braithwaite has succeeded Luis Suarez as Barcelona’s number nine.
The Denmark international moved to Catalonia in a controversial £15m deal in February after La Liga gave Barça permission to make an emergency transfer outside the transfer window following injuries to both Ousmane Dembele and Suarez.
Braithwaite’s former club, though, Leganes, were unable to buy a replacement. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old scored once in 11 La Liga appearances for Quique Setien at the end of last season and is yet to appear for Ronald Koeman’s side this term.
The rightful heir to a modern day icon, then.
Barcelona revealed their official squad numbers for the 2020/21 season on their official Twitter pageon Tuesday afternoon, with Braithwaite taking the number nine strip previously worn by Suarez following his move from Liverpool in 2014.
The 33-year-old Uruguayan, though, was told by Koeman that he wasn’t part of his plans for the upcoming campaign and he made the switch to domestic rivals Atletico Madrid for a mere £5m to bring to an end a mightily successful spell at Camp Nou.
Suarez secured 13 pieces of sliverware during his time at Barcelona, scoring an impressive 198 goals in the process – a tally which ranks third all-time in the club’s scoring charts.
The club, however, were unable to secure a replacement for Suarez in the transfer window after a proposed move for Memphis Depay failed to materialise. Thus, Braithwaite may play an important – if not limited – role for Koeman this term with his new number nine shirt.
Reports had previously emerged that the Dane had asked for Lionel Messi’s number ten shirt when it appeared likely that the Argentine would depart Catalonia in the summer.
Although, Braithwaite was swift to dismiss these claims: “What do people think themselves?
“Of course I did not go to the club and ask for Messi’s number. It would be so disrespectful. I really feel that the people who come up with these kinds of stories lack respect for a lot of people.” he said.