Ranking every player to wear No.9 for Barcelona since 1995

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Barcelona No.9 Ronaldo Nazario during the UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final ... Barcelona v Paris St.Germain. De Kuip, Rotterdam, 14 May 1997.

Robert Lewandowski is the latest incumbent of Barcelona’s iconic No.9 shirt. But how have the other wearers of the famous shirt fared since the mid-90s?

Lewandowski is the 12th player to have worn the shirt since 1995 and it would be fair to say that the club have had mixed successes with those that proudly wore the No.9 on their back – from the utterly sublime to the quite frankly ridiculous.

Here’s how we’ve ranked the 11 to have preceded Lewandowski, from worst to best.

11. Martin Braithwaite

It feels mean putting Braithwaite bottom, because – to be fair – he’s done exactly what you’d expect of a striker that not so long ago scored eight goals in 36 Championship appearances for Middlesbrough.

We can’t help but like the Denmark international, who has been honest about his limitations and has always shown his commitment to the cause.

Signed for €18million, his return isn’t all that unreasonable, either, with 10 goals and five assists from 57 appearances, most of which have been off the bench.

10. Meho Kodro 

After breaking the 20-goal mark in back-to-back seasons in La Liga for Real Sociedad, Kodro joined Barcelona in the summer of 1995.

He failed to recapture the form he had shown for the Basque club, however, scoring just nine goals in 32 league appearances in his only season at Camp Nou. That’s still a better ratio than Braithwaite, to be fair.

9. Memphis Depay

Given he scored more international goals than any other player in 2021, it was obvious why his former Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman wanted him at the Camp Nou – just like Louis van Gaal did at Manchester United back in 2015.

Given he was available on a free, and had been wildly successful at Lyon, the move was a no-brainer. And everything started off promisingly enough, with two goals in his first three appearances before another five for his country in the September 2021 international break.

Things took a turn for the worse after that, though.

To be fair, he managed to reach 12 goals in his 28 La Liga games last season, but he doesn’t look a natural fit for Xavi’s style of football.

The fact Xavi has since signed both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lewandowski – who was immediately handed the No.9 – suggests Memphis is on his way out. Reports have linked him with a free transfer to Juventus.

8. Sonny Anderson

Anderson joined Barcelona from Monaco in 1997 and had the unenviable task of replacing Ronaldo at the Nou Camp.

“It was a very difficult time because when I arrived, I cost more money than Ronaldo and the fans expected from me a similar performance,” Anderson told Goal in 2019.

“Ronaldo was a unique player and the fans didn’t know much about me because I played in France.”

While he was never going to fill Ronaldo’s shoes, he still won back-to-back La Liga titles and scored 21 goals in all competitions during his two years at the club.

READ: Ranking the 27 Brazilians to sign for Barcelona since 1990

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

Brought in from Inter Milan in 2009, Ibrahimovic had some serious pedigree having netted 66 goals in 117 appearances for the Nerazzurri.

However, he didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Pep Guardiola and their relationship completely deteriorated after a defeat to Inter in 2010.

“Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it,” Ibrahimovic wrote in his 2013 autobiography.

“I thought, ‘There is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’ I yelled, ‘You haven’t got any balls!’ and worse than that I added, ‘You can go to hell!’

“I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward.”

The Sweden international was sent out on loan to AC Milan after just one season in Spain before making the move permanent in 2011.

A costly misstep, but Ibra still won a La Liga title and scored the match-winner in a Clasico, so it wasn’t all bad.

6. Bojan 

Once tipped as the next big thing after breaking all sorts of goalscoring records at youth level, Bojan made his first-team debut at the age of 17 in 2007, breaking Lionel Messi’s record as the youngest player to appear for Barca in La Liga.

It was not until the 2010-11 season that he was given the No.9 shirt, however, and it would be his last at Camp Nou, bringing seven goals in 37 appearances in all competitions before he joined Serie A side Roma for a fee in the region of €12million.

He later returned to Barca only to be loaned out again to Ajax and then join Stoke City.

READ: Where are they now? A ‘new Lionel Messi’ for every year since 2006

5. Alexis Sanchez 

Despite not being a natural striker, Sanchez was given the No.9 shirt after joining Barcelona from Udinese in 2011.

The Chile international had a more-than-respectable record of 39 goals in 88 La Liga appearances, including a memorable chip against Real Madrid in 2013.

He was unable to cement a regular place in the starting lineup, however, and was sold to Arsenal in 2014.

4. Patrick Kluivert 

After wearing the No.19 shirt for his first year at Barcelona, Kluivert switched to the No.9 shirt ahead of the 1999-00 campaign.

The striker scored 106 goals in 219 appearances over the next five years, but the Spanish giants failed to win a single major trophy during that time.

He was released in 2004 and Barcelona then ended their trophy drought with two consecutive La Liga titles. How’s your luck?

READ: An ode to Patrick Kluivert, a proper striker whose career peaked too early

3. Ronaldo 

While Ronaldo only spent one season at the Nou Camp, it was arguably the greatest of his incredible career.

The striker scored 47 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions in 1996-97 as Barcelona finished second in La Liga but won the Copa del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup under Bobby Robson.

He then joined Inter Milan in a world record deal before returning to Spain with Real Madrid five years later.

Only a lack of longevity keeps him out of the top two spots.

READ: A tribute to Barcelona-era Ronaldo and his *other* hat-trick v Valencia

2. Samuel Eto’o 

Eto’o joined Barcelona from Mallorca in 2004 and developed into one of the best strikers in the world, scoring 130 goals in 199 appearances for the club.

He formed part of a deadly attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry in 2008-09, helping Barcelona win the first treble in Spanish football history.

Despite his incredible goalscoring record, he was sold to Inter Milan in the summer of 2009, with Ibrahimovic arriving from the other direction. *Mick McCarthy voice* – that went well.

1. Luis Suarez 

After starring for Liverpool in 2013-14, Barcelona agreed to pay £65million to secure Suarez’s services.

In Spain, his game went to a whole new level, scoring 198 goals in 283 appearances while winning four La Liga titles and the Champions League during his six years at the club.

Lionel Messi called him “one of the most important players in the club’s history” – and who are we to argue with that?


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