Is Liverpool’s number 3 shirt cursed?

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Abel Xavier playing for Liverpool
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Dylan Gerstley explores whether or not Liverpool’s number 3 kit number is cursed.

The much maligned Jose Enrique has moved on and his departure has opened up the classic number 3 shirt for center back Mamadou Sakho. The number has been worn by a motley cast of characters for about 30 years and it will be up to Sakho to make the shirt legendary.

Here is a brief history of a few of the players to wear it in the Premier League era. Only one player ever made a decent impact but all the others suffered from poor form and poor attitudes that led them to short careers at Anfield.

Jose Enrique (2011-2016)

The Spanish left back wore the number 3 for five years and arrived from Newcastle with an excellent reputation. Fans were ecstatic to have signed one of the Premier League’s best performers from the previous campaign and Enrique did little to discourage fans with his start in a red shirt. His first season remains his finest as the physically capable left back shuttled up and down the pitch all game long while being stout in his defensive duties. His form dipped towards the end of the 2011-2012 season but he was still able to keep his place.

The 2012-2013 saw Enrique again make numerous appearances for the club but he was never as commanding as he was when he first signed on. It would be the last season the Spaniard would play a key role in as injuries hampered his next campaign and he proceeded to fall out of favor with Brendan Rodgers.

The left back would only feature a handful of times over the following two seasons and was released by the club and Jurgen Klopp at the end of the 2015-2016 campaign.

Steve Finnan (2003-2008)

Steve Finnan was the best number 3 Liverpool have had in the Premier League era. He arrived from Fulham as one of manager Gerard Houllier’s last signings before Rafa Benitez took over. The club as a whole trudged through a brutal campaign and Finnan was not an exception. His poor first season did not instill confidence in supporters but his play and consistency dramatically changed with Benitez in charge.

The Irishman would go on to be a solid rock in the back and his consistency was his outstanding attribute. He rarely had a poor game and from August 2004 to May 2007 he featured in 99 of Liverpool’s 114 competitive fixtures. The left back eventually fell out of contention for the starting role as Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa were preferred ahead of him.

Finnan left the club in 2008 and joined La Liga side Espanyol for a season before playing for Portsmouth in their horrendous 2009-2010 season. The FA Cup final at Wembley would be his last appearance and the Irishman has now retired from the game.

Abel Xavier (2002-2004)

Abel Xavier crossed from the blue half of Merseyside to the red half as he switched Everton for Liverpool. The Portuguese left back scored on his debut and was a relatively solid performer thought his first half season and into the following full campaign. The left back was often questioned for his commitment, attitude, and dedication during his spell and soon he fell out with manager Gerard Houllier. Xavier was shipped out to Galatasaray and it became even more clear that the Portuguese had an attitude problem.

Xavier bounced around Europe from club to club, playing for Hannover 96, AS Roma, and Middlesborough before failing a steroid test. The suspension would keep Xavier out of the game for 14 months, though he returned with Los Angeles Galaxy. At the end of 2009, he retired.

With Mamadou Sakho changing his kit number from 17 to 3, could it spell doom for one of Liverpool’s best defenders or will the Parisian centre-half break the bogey and kick on next season?

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Dylan is a freelance content writer that cherishes the beautiful game. He covers the Bethlehem Steel for phillysoccerpage.net and all things EPL at thesoccerscoop.com. For business inquiries, email Dylan at dylangerstley16@gmail.com.

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