This season, Ligue 1 Uber Eats players can choose any jersey number between 1 and 99. Check out who has gone with an unconventional option on their back - and find out why!
Ligue 1 Uber Eats is back! It's an opportunity to see Alexandre Lacazette score a penalty with the number 91 on his back, Mamadou Sakho head the ball wearing the number 75, or goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Mory Diaw clashing at Clermont with the number 99 on their backs... Not forgetting, of course, Alexis Sánchez's walkabout in front of Marignane airport, wearing an OM jersey with the number 70 on it.
As of this season, these numbers - which were once considered inappropriate - have been authorised. Article 576 of the LFP's regulations was modified a few weeks ago, allowing players to choose numbers ranging from 1 to 99 - a temptation that about 50 players have already succumbed to.
"With the new regulation, players will be able to represent their home town. It's great", exclaimed Strasbourg midfielder Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, who has nevertheless kept his number 17 so that the people to whom he has given shirts don't end up with an outdated version! More daring (or less considerate) colleagues have taken the plunge, at almost every club in the league. Numbers evoking cities - or rather departments - are now flourishing, while other players choose to display their year of birth, the number of their favourite bus, that of their childhood idol, a double number or a lucky charm.
At ACA, they proudly display their origins. Born in Nantes, trained in Nantes and a player with the Canaries until he was 23, Chaker Alhadhur now wears the 44 of the Loire-Atlantique region on his shirt. The same goes for Fernand Mayembo, who was born in the DRC but grew up in Melun, Seine-et-Marne. As for the Guadeloupean Taïryk Arconte, he had to decide. The new regulations allow him to choose a number from 1 to 99 but not yet to display three digits on his jersey. The native of Les Abymes opted for 97, the first part of the departmental code of Guadeloupe (971).
> The players: Chaker Alhadhur (44), Fernand Mayembo (77) and Taïryk Arconte (97)
Born in Nanterre, the capital of the Paris-region Hauts-de-Seine department, Sada Thioub is repping the 9-2. The other original in the SCO squad is Marin Jakoliš. The Croatian striker has moved up to 44, having already played for Admira Wecker (Austria) and HNK Šibenik (Croatia). A tribute to Dražen Petrović, the Yugoslavian basketball legend, who wore the 44 with the Portland Trail Blazers and who had been coached by Marin Jakoliš's father in his early days, as noted by So Foot.
> The players: Marin Jakoliš (44), Sada Thioub (92)
AJA were one of the few clubs to have everyone in traditional numbers - until the arrival of Madagascar international Rayan Raveloson, who will play the season with the number 97 - which represents both the year of his birth and the beginning of the postcode of Reunion Island (974), where he is originally from.
> The players: Rayan Raveloson (97)
Stade Brestois 29
The new Brest fullback Noah Fadiga has chosen the 99 worn by his father Khalilou, a former Senegal international and AJ Auxerre man who is at the end of his career with La Gantoise. For his part, Youcef Belaïli swapped the 24 for the 31 in order to represent the wilaya (territorial community) of Oran, where the Algerian international is from.
> The players: Youcef Belaïli (31), Noah Fadiga (99)
Clermont Foot 63
The new numbering system took off quickly at Clermont. In addition to the 95 of Grejohn Kyei, born in 1995 in the Val-d'Oise, there are other department numbers on the shirts, such as the 91 of Essonne for Jérémie Bela (from Evry) or the 69 of Rhône for Sofyan Chader, who has just signed for Lucerne. Good news for Yuliwes Bellache, who wanted to have 69 for the same reasons and who finally decided to go with 88. Among the young Clermontois, Yanis Massolin opted for the 97 not because he is 1m97 tall but "for the 972 of Martinique" - a nod to his West Indian origins. Young Austrian attacking midfielder Muhammed Cham was a starter on the first day of Ligue 1 Uber Eats and would have liked to wear the No10, which is owned by Saïf-Eddine Khaoui. "So I took the 70 because, from a distance, it looks like the 10," he laughs. Note also the 99 of Mory Diaw.
> The players: Muhammed Cham Saračević (70), Yuliwes Bellache (88), Jérémie Bela (91), Grejohn Kyei (95), Yanis Massolin (97), Mory Diaw (99)
Only classic numbers for RC Lens this season. As in the past few years, 12 and 17 have not been allocated. The 12 symbolises the Bollaert crowd, Lens' 12th man, while the number 17 jersey has been retired since the tragic death of Marc-Vivien Foé, Les Sang-et-Or's number 17 in the 1990s.
Like Lens, rivals Lille have shown restraint on the numbering front, with Ismaily, the Brazilian full-back who arrived from Shakhtar, the only one to exercise his new right. "I've been wearing this number for nine years now. It's been part of my career, part of my life," said the man who took the number 31. "I hope that this number will bring me the same success as it did at Donetsk."
> The players: Ismaily (31)
There is a bit of everything at Lorient: goalkeeper Teddy Bartouche wears the 77 of the Seine-et-Marne as he was born in Lagny, lived in Lognes and played in Torcy, like a certain Paul Pogba. For his part, Umut Bozok took the 99 to have a 9 in his number, after having already worn the 9 at Lorient, the 19 at Kasımpaşa and Nîmes or the 39 at ESTAC. The new Swiss goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo, on the other hand, has set his sights on 38: "To be honest, I would have taken 1 but it was not available! So I settled on 38 because I wanted a number with an 8, my lucky number. Throughout my career I have always had numbers with an 8: 18, 28 and 38, like at PSV."
No explanation yet for Armand Laurienté's 45.
> The players: Yvon Mvogo (38), Armand Laurienté (45), Teddy Bartouche (77), Umut Bozok (99)
Alexandre Lacazette, who was born in 1991, is wearing the 91 on his return to his parent club. The other famous returnee, Corentin Tolisso, will wear the 88. The midfielder has chosen to double the 8 - now on the shoulders of Houssem Aouar - he had at OL before leaving for Bayern. Another OL-trained player who returned this summer is goalkeeper Rémy Riou, who chose 35: the very first number he wore at the club, back in the 2005-06 season. During his two seasons abroad, with Alanyaspor and Charleroi, the Lyon native wore the number... 69 !
> The players: Rémy Riou (35), Corentin Tolisso (88), Alexandre Lacazette (91).
Olympique de Marseille
As his favourite number, 7, waalready taken by Jonathan Clauss (who would have gladly given it up to him btw), star recruit Alexis Sánchez settled on the 70. For his part, new Spanish goalkeeper Rubén Blanco opted for 36, his first number at Celta. His usual 13 is owned by Cédric Bakambu, who explained on his arrival that he had chosen this number in particular because he was now playing in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, as he is originally from the Paris area. Finally, Chancel Mbemba has fallen for the 99, the 19 he wore at Porto already belonging to Jordan Amavi.
> The players: Rubén Blanco (36), Alexis Sánchez (70), Chancel Mbemba (99)
Portuguese winger Gelson Martins changed from 7 to 77 during the off-season - the number he wore during his last two seasons at Sporting, taking over from a certain Nani among the 77s at the Lisbon club. Sofiane Diop was thus able to recover the 7, abandoning the 37 he wore because he comes from Tours, in the Indre-et-Loire. But perhaps the most original reason goes to Breel Embolo, AS Monaco's new number 36. "This number has already brought me luck, in Basel. I became a professional with it. And when I was younger, I always took the 36 bus to training," he said at his introduction to Schalke a few years ago. "I mean, 3 + 6 is 9, the classic striker's number.
> The players: Breel Embolo (36), Anthony Musaba (52), Willem Geubbels (53), Harisson Marcelin (54), Antonio Barreca (55), Gelson Martins (77)
Montpellier Hérault SC
Although he has never worn the number 9 in his career, Wahbi Khazri pounced on the 99 at MHSC. And there's another double in the Montpellier squad: the 77 of Falaye Sacko, another ex-Sainté man. "I chose the number 77 because I like the number 7. When I take a number, I need a 7 in it. It's because of advice from my grandmother. As I couldn't get the number 17 (his national team number), I took the number 77", confided the Malian international on his arrival at the club. In his second season at Montpellier, Mamadou Sakho changed his number from 3 to 75, as he was born in Paris and spent 11 years at PSG between the youth academy and the first team.
> The players: Mamadou Sakho (75), Falaye Sacko (77), Wahbi Khazri (99)
Born in Aulnay-sous-Bois, Charles Traoré has decided to represent the Seine-Saint-Denis department by waetring the number 93, while Bridge Ndilu, who played all of his youth career and made his professional debut at Laval, has chosen the 53 of Mayenne. As for new Egyptian striker Mostafa Mohamed, he wears the 31, as he did previously for Galatasaray and Tala'ea El Geish. Abdoul Kader Bamba has returned from a loan spell at Amiens SC and taken the 55.
> The players: Mostafa Mohamed (31), Bridge Ndilu (53), Abdoul Kader Bamba (55), Charles Traoré (93)
Mario Lemina has opted for the 99 - his number at Galatasaray - in the new season. Promising Italian defender Mattia Viti, 20, has chosen to keep the number 42 he wore with Empoli, while 'keeper Marcin Bułka started the season with the number 90, although the number 1 seemed to be promised to him, but no one knows why. A welcome gesture towards Kasper Schmeichel, who arrived in Nice a few days earlier? Note that Aaron Ramsey wears 16, a number previously reserved for goalkeepers. The same goes for Nuno Tavares at OM with the 30.
> The players: Mattia Viti (42), Marcin Bułka (90), Mario Lemina (99)
Born in 1999, Gianluigi Donnarumma has gone for the number 99, as he did during his seasons with AC Milan. The Italian is not the only PSG goalkeeper with his birth year on his back: Alexandre Letellier wears the number 90. Hugo Ekitiké has chosen 44, the double of the number under which he rose to prominence himself at Reims (22), and a number that once again reflects his palindromic surname.
> The players: Hugo Ekitiké (44), Alexandre Letellier (90), Gianluigi Donnarumma (99)
Stade de Reims
Several Reims players took advantage of the new regulations to change their number, starting with Dereck Kutesa. The Swiss midfielder is a great believer in the system and has taken 77 because "7 is the holy number in the Bible. El Bilal Touré already had the number 7, so I took the 77."
Among the other numbers with a 7: the 70 of Alexis Flips, a Robinho fan with a number of other reasons for his choice. "My son was born on 7 May. It was the perfect opportunity to change numbers and give him a nod!". After Robinho, 70 at AC Milan... we have Ronaldo. Rafik Guitane chose the 99 that the legendary Brazilian striker wore with the Milanese club. The ex-Le Havre man also made this choice because he was born in 1999.
Youth international goalkeeper Yehvann Diouf easily went for to the 94. "I grew up in the Val-de-Marne and I always told myself that if I had the opportunity to choose my shirt number one day, I would take the 94 to represent the department. It's a number that suits me. Even when I play FIFA in career mode, I take the 94", he explained to Reims' official website.
Meanwhile Japanese recruit Junya Ito, as noted by L'Equipe, took the 39 because, in his country, the 3 is pronounced "san" and the 9 "kyu" - "thank you"! A little oddity: attacking midfielder Kamory Doumbia is now playing with the number 3, the number he wore in his first caps with Mali U20 and which has become his lucky charm.
> The players: Junya Ito (39), Alexis Flips (70), Dereck Kutesa (77), Yehvann Diouf (94), Rafik Guitane (99)
Stade Rennais FC
Used to wearing unusual numbers, since he wore 77 and 78 in the Portuguese league, Rennes goalkeeper Romain Salin switched from 1 to 89 this summer. But it has nothing to do with his year of birth, as he was born in 1984.
> The players: Romain Salin (89)
RC Strasbourg Alsace
There are no non-squad numbers to be found in the Racing ranks at this stage of the season.
Kévin Keben came on in the 79th minute against Nice on Sunday for his first start in the top flight. Born in Cameroon to a father from Toulouse, the young defender arrived in the city at the age of two and came up at the TFC academy, so it is likely that he chose to wear the number 31 of the Haute-Garonne department, of which Toulouse is the capital.
> The players: Kévin Keben (31)
There are several new numbers in the ESTAC squad, notably the 39 of Yasser Larouci. The Troyes left-back was born in El Oued, Algeria, whose wilaya is code 39.
> The players: Yasser Larouci (39), Brandon Dominguès (42), Mahamadou Dembélé (43), Levi Lumeka (44)