Robin van Persie has explained the circumstances behind his strange decision to retain the number 20 shirt at Manchester United despite the number nine being available.
The iconic shirt number was still occupied by Dimitar Berbatov when Van Persie completed his controversial move from Arsenal in 2012. It left him with a choice of either the 20 or 21 shirt.
On the advice of Rene Meulensteen, Van Persie opted for 20 because the Dutch striker was signed in Sir Alex Ferguson's bid to land Manchester United's 20th title. That story has convinced Van Persie to retain the shirt for the subsequent two seasons.
"There's only one shirt you should take, it's number 20 because we are going for the 20th league title"
Part of a story
He told BT Sport: "I'm not really bothered [about shirt numbers] but I think it is part of a story.
"For example, my number 20 at Manchester United is part of a story which we wanted to happen because just after I signed I had the option to go for 20 or 21.
"But at that time Manchester United had won 19 titles so then I spoke to Rene Meulensteen and he said, 'There's only one shirt you should take, it's number 20 because we are going for the 20th league title'.
"So I said, 'Yeah, I think you're right. We should go for number 20'."
Berbatov left Old Trafford for Fulham only a few days after Van Persie arrived. As a consequence, Van Persie had the chance to exchange his shirt for the more conventional number nine. However, the Dutchman is happy to keep his current number because of the story that goes with it.
"I think it's a beautiful story and hopefully we can make it even more beautiful and extend it to 21"
Ready to change
Radamel Falcao is now the occupier of the striker's shirt, but is tipped to return to AS Monaco at the end of the season freeing it up once again. Interestingly, Van Persie did admit that he is considering a change on shirt number, but not the one fans would expect.
He continued: "Although I had the option to go for number nine for the last two years, I stick with the number 20 because I think it's a beautiful story and hopefully we can make it even more beautiful and extend it to 21."
Asked if he would be wearing the 21 next season, Van Persie finished: "I was actually thinking about it but I think it's best for the fans as well because so many fans bought the shirt number, I think it's best to just stick to 20."
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