- Thanks to Joe Blundell for making us aware of this
In times past, there were notable examples of players – usually, but not always, mid-season signings – wearing different numbers in European competition compared to what they had domestically.
However, in 2018, Uefa made a slight change to their rules, removing the stipulation that an individual number at a club could not be worn by more than one player. These are the 2017-18 regulations…
and these are the 2018-19 edition:
Previously, a signing made during a campaign could not wear a number that another player had earlier in the season but, with that prohibition lifted, there was less chance of somebody being registered with a different number in Europe compared to what they normally had (an exception is when a player changes number domestically during the season, like Gavi at Barcelona).
There remains a hold-out against the new way of doing things, though. When Sevilla won the Europa League in 2020 – the club’s sixth, three clear at the top of the roll of honour – they had Argentinian winger Lucas Ocampos wearing number 5 but their squad for the final win over Internazionale featured two squad numbers that stood out even more, given that we are used to seeing Spanish sides having to number from 1-25.
During that season, Sevilla signed winger Suso on loan from Milan and Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri from Leganés. They were assigned 14 and 15 respectively, occupied by Guilherme Arana and Joris Gnangnon prior to Christmas.
Whether the club still believed that the old regulation was in place or if it was simply a decision they opted to take, the new pair carried different digits in Europe and the approach taken was to reverse the teen numbers – 41 for Suso and 51 for En-Nesyri.
Suso switched to number 7 in the summer of 2020, meaning he had worn three different numbers for the club in the space of seven months. He still has that while En-Nesyri has stuck with 15.
The aforementioned Ocampos joined Ajax on loan last summer – he took the 11 that the Manchester United-bound Antony had vacated – and the Sevilla number 5 was taken by Kasper Dolberg, who had arrived from Nice on a season-long loan.
However, neither move worked out and both were terminated during the January transfer window, with Dolberg moving on to Hoffenheim as Ocampos returned to Sevilla and the number 5. Loïc Badé moved to Sevilla too, on loan from Rennes, and the French defender was assigned number 22, which had belonged to Isco prior to the mutual cancelling of his contract.
Sevilla had qualified for the play-off round of the Europa League and last week’s 3-0 first-leg against PSV saw more examples of them abiding by the old Uefa rule. In Badé’s case, his 22 was doubled to 44, while Ocampos also ‘doubled’ in a sense – he was allocated 55 rather than 5.
However, as if to prove that it’s not something they do for all mid-season signings, Bryan Gil kept the number 25 he was assigned domestically after his loan return from Tottenham Hotspur – no player had had in the early part of the season.
Incidentally, prior to Isco and Badé, the number 22 was worn in the second part of 2021-22 by Anthony Martial when he joined on loan from Manchester United. He wore 22 in La Liga and the Europa League – his predecessor, Idrissa, had not featured in Europe.
Is there more to it than simply missing a change in the rules? We would imagine that Uefa would flag such a thing with teams rather than somebody having to come through line by line each year, checking for alterations, but you never know.
In any case, there’s a part of us that likes quirky things like this, all the more so when there’s just one club involved. This is Sevilla’s ‘thing’ now, so hopefully they continue to stand out.