Newly promoted Championship side Rotherham United recently acquired the services of highly rated Hale End product Brooke Norton-Cuffy on loan.
The Arsenal youngster primarily plays as a right-back and garnered attention following an impressive loan spell at Lincoln City during the second half of last season.
Aside from notching up a goal and an assist, the 18-year-old made a total of 17 appearances for the League One side, showing flashes of his attacking abilities in the process.
The England U19 International has been touted to gradually become a part of Mikel Arteta’s side in the future, and a spell in unrelenting tides of the Championship acts as an essential rite of passage for the youngster.
The announcement of the loan deal came as a surprise to many, as Norton-Cuffy had offers from no less than 7 other Championship clubs, before eventually opting to head to newly-promoted Rotherham.
Aside from that, users online were also baffled by the number handed to the fresh loanee, as the youngster is all set to sport the no 10 for the Millers’.
You don’t have to be a football purist to be familiar with the significance of shirt numbers, and the Number 10 specifically is usually handed to a team’s creator-in-chief.
A number 10 typically possesses flair and finesse in equal measure to not only create opportunities but also convert them when required. Examples are aplenty, notable ones being Lionel Messi at Barcelona and Eden Hazard at Chelsea.
And as such, when a fullback was handed the influential number, fans online couldn’t help but voice their disapproval.
The sentiment isn’t solely borne out of the ‘defender’ element, but also with the fact that the number, which signifies an important role, has been given to a new and temporary player.
For Arsenal fans, seeing Norton-Cuffy sporting the 10 brought back shades of William Gallas, who audaciously went for the number despite being a centre-back.
With so many complaints, there’s a crucial aspect that was missed by many: The game has evolved quite a bit.
Nowadays, the formations are fluid, roles are interchangeable, positions shift seamlessly, and most importantly, the numbers really don’t matter.
Kevin De Bruyne regularly oscillates between a traditional No 8 or his preferred 10 during a single game, Joao Cancelo sports the No.7 despite being the furthest thing from a goal-scorer.
And talents such as Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James act as prime creators for their respective sides, unburdened by the numbers on their backs.
Needless to say, it’s a new era, and aside from defining a player’s profile, roles assigned to numbers are no longer obligatory.