There was a time when only the best players wore the No.7 shirt at Manchester United.
Today, it currently belongs to a player who isn’t spending the season away from Old Trafford.
There are parallels between Alexis Sanchez’s decline and what’s happened to the No.7 shirt at United, which was once owned by Messrs Best, Cantona, Beckham and Ronaldo.
It’s an iconic number in Man United’s history but since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2009, it’s been more of a curse.
Sanchez, Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay are among the players to have worn it.
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And they haven’t done it justice.
GiveMeSport has taken a look at the eight players to have worn the No.7 shirt in the Premier League era - and what’s happened to them since.
Squad numbers were introduced for the 1993-94 season and the mercurial Cantona was the first player to be officially assigned the No.7 shirt.
There was rarely a dull moment with Cantona on the pitch and he became a fan-favourite at the club.
Eighty-two goals, four Premier League titles, one kung-fu kick. Cantona was a true entertainer.
He continued to stay in the limelight after retiring in 1997, becoming an actor, appearing in Nike commercials and even captaining the French national beach soccer team.
Beckham’s career at Man United ended in acrimony but he’s still remembered with fondness by the club’s supporters.
A member of the Class of 92, Beckham went on to win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League under Sir Alex Ferguson.
His relationship with Fergie deteriorated, though, and he joined Real Madrid in 2003.
Spells at LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain followed before Becks hung up his boots in 2013.
He’s still involved in football, becoming a part-owner of Salford City earlier in 2019.
Beckham is currently in the process of launching Inter Miami in MLS and is also starting a career as a football agent, with plans to make Kylian Mbappe a client.
The last great player to wear the No.7 shirt at Manchester United.
It was in Manchester where Ronaldo developed from a fresh-faced teenager into one of the best players in the world, winning the first of five Ballon d’Or awards in 2008.
The speed, the tricks, the goals. He was a joy to watch between 2003 and 2009.
Then came his departure to Real Madrid for a then world-record fee of £80 million.
He spent nine seasons in Madrid - scoring 450 goals for Los Blancos - before joining current club Juventus in 2018.
Here’s where things start to turn bad.
Owen wasn’t terrible for Man United but supporters will have wanted someone better to take on the No.7 shirt than a player whose best years were very much behind him.
He was never more than a squad player but fans will never forget his winner against Manchester City in the 2009 derby.
Owen can now be found airing his views as a pundit for BT Sport.
He is also a racehorse breeder and owner, even competing as a jockey in a charity race at Ascot in 2017.
Valencia was given the No.25 shirt upon his arrival at United in 2009 but switched to No.7 for the 2012/13 season.
However, he went back to No.25 after a difficult year in the iconic shirt.
“It was more to do with the fact that 25 was the number I had when I first came to the club and I played well wearing that,” he admitted after reverting to his first number, per the Mirror.
“So I thought ‘why don’t I go back to 25?’ I had good times and good fortune in that shirt.”
The Ecuadorian’s 10 years at United were brought to an end in the summer when he was released by the club.
He now plays in his homeland for L.D.U. Quito.
Angel Di Maria
The Red Devils smashed the British transfer record to sign Di Maria from Real Madrid in 2014, forking out £59.7 million for him.
But he would go on to endure nine miserable months in Manchester.
It started well enough. The Argentinian won the club’s Player of the Month award for September.
But Di Maria struggled under Louis van Gaal’s regimented system and suffered off the pitch, too.
Injuries and an attempted robbery of his Cheshire home prompted Di Maria’s premature exit and he joined Paris Saint-Germain in August 2015.
The 31-year-old has rediscovered his best form in the French capital.
Man United fans probably look at Memphis now and wonder what could have been.
The Netherlands international has been a hit since signing for Lyon in 2017.
It followed an 18-month spell at Man United in which Memphis failed to deliver up to the hype.
Arsenal, PSG and Liverpool all had an interest in the winger but United secured his services, paying PSV Eindhoven a £31m transfer fee.
Memphis requested the No.7 shirt - a sign of his confidence - but he came under instant scrutiny after making a slow start to life in England.
The wait to see Memphis come good continued until January 2017, when Jose Mourinho sold him to Lyon.
Memphis’ form in France has resulted in United supporters demanding the club active his first-option clause, should Lyon look to sell.
Man United and Arsenal both lost in the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan swap deal.
Sanchez, handed a £400,000-per-week contract at United, endured a disastrous time in Manchester after signing for the Red Devils in January 2018.
The Chilean scored just five goals in 45 appearances, doing nothing to resurrect the No.7 shirt.
Sanchez joined Inter Milan on a season-long loan in August, meaning the No.7 shirt isn’t even on show at Old Trafford this season.News Now - Sport News