January 24, 2019 / 4:59 PM / 4 months ago

Soccer: Piatek told he will have to earn the Milan nine shirt

MILAN (Reuters) - AC Milan’s new striker Krzysztof Piatek will have to wait to wear the number nine shirt which previously belonged to the likes of Jose Altafini, Marco van Basten and Filippo Inzaghi, he was told Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League - League A - Group 3 - Poland v Portugal - Silesian Stadium, Chorzow, Poland - October 11, 2018 Poland's Krzysztof Piatek celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Radoslaw Jozwiak -/File Photo

The Polish striker joined Milan on Wednesday after scoring 19 goals in 21 appearances for Genoa in a remarkable first six months in Italian football. He will replace Gonzalo Higuain who cut short his year-long from Juventus to join Chelsea.

Piatek, who has signed a contract until 2023, has been handed the number 19 shirt, although it was not the one he wanted.

“To be honest, he asked for the number nine, but at this moment it is something which has to be earned because it’s an important number,” Milan’s technical director Leonardo Araujo told reporters during Piatek’s official presentation.

A long line of illustrious players have worn the shirt such as Altafini who scored 14 goals in the European Cup campaign in 1962/63, including two in the final, to finish as top scorer as Milan won the competition for the first time.

Inzaghi scored 74 goals in European competition for Milan, including two in the 2007 Champions League final against Liverpool, while Dutchman Van Basten won the Ballon d’Or three times as a Milan player in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, it recently appears to have become a burden with Luiz Adriano, Alexandre Pato, Mattia Destro, Fernando Torres, Andre Silva and Higuain among players who have struggled. “It’s not a question of superstition,” said Leonardo.

Piatek, 23, said he wanted to “score in every game” and help Milan achieve their target of finishing in the top four to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

“I was born ready and I will do everything I can to help AC Milan get back into the Champions League,” he said.

“I want to play in this competition. I will always fight and give my all on the pitch”.

Milan are fourth in Serie A with 34 points and host Napoli on Saturday.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Keith Weir

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