Cristiano Ronaldo will wear Manchester United’s iconic No. 7 jersey this season.
There was great debate surrounding the Premier League rules’ allowance for such a late change in squad numbers, but it appears as though the Red Devils have been able to pull things off.
As such, Edinson Cavani has relinquished the famous jersey in favour of the No. 21 shirt that he wears for Uruguay with his new teammate Ronaldo picking up from where he left off in England.
Ronaldo recoups the No. 7 shirt
According to the Mirror, Ronaldo expressed his gratitude by saying: “I was not sure if it would be possible to have the number seven shirt again. So I would like to say a huge thank you to Edi for this incredible gesture.”
Ultimately, squad numbers mean very little when it comes to games and positioning anymore, but there’s no denying that there is a mysticism that surrounds the No. 7 jersey at Old Trafford.
With clubs legends like George Best and Bryan Robson having strutted their stuff at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ with No. 7 on their back, it’s only natural that it has grown to an iconic status at the club.
RANKING FOOTBALL GOATS! Ronaldo, Messi, R9, Zidane? (Football Terrace)
The No. 7 shirt’s legendary status
However, it’s only in the Premier League era that the mythology around the shirt has truly flourished and that’s because a series of world-class players sported the number in the 1990s and 2000s.
But as United fans will be all-too aware, the run of luck that came with the No. 7 jersey has dried up in recent years and there will be optimism that Ronaldo can get the ball rolling again.
Nevertheless, given the mix of fortune and failure that has come with the No. 7 shirt since English football’s 1992 rebranding, we thought it would only be natural to rank the jersey’s recent alumni.
Ranking United’s No. 7s
According to the Manchester Evening News, no less than 10 players have sported the shirt in the Premier League era and we have ranked each one of them from worst to best.
To do so, we will be taking into consideration their performances in the iconic No. 7 jersey as well as their United careers as a whole, so be sure to check out the 10 players stacked up down below:
10. Alexis Sanchez
An unmitigated disaster of a transfer that reportedly cost United more than £500,000 per week with the former Arsenal man wanting to leave after one day and only scoring three league goals.
9. Memphis Depay
An undoubtedly talented player, but one that simply didn’t gel at United with Jose Mourinho showing him the door just 53 appearances and seven goals into a forgettable spell in the Premier League.
8. Angel Di Maria
Having remarkably said he ‘didn’t give a f**k’ about United’s famous jersey this week, Di Maria gave fans the umpteenth reminder that he didn’t enjoy life in England nor working with Louis van Gaal.
Ten assists in the Premier League is nothing to sniff at, sure, but the Argentine was a shadow of the player that had shone at Real Madrid and was hastily sold for a loss just one season later.
7. Michael Owen
Owen wasn’t as poor for United as some people make out, scoring a respectable 11 goals in 57 outings, but he was most certainly past his best and injuries cruelly slashed his game time latterly.
6. Antonio Valencia
A fantastic servant for United, but not a fantastic No. 7. We have to counterbalance Valencia’s brilliant service for the Red Devils with the fact he struggled during the 2012/13 campaign in which he wore the jersey in question.
5. Andrei Kanchelskis
On a similar note, Kanchelskis barely had time to settle into the No. 7 shirt in the Premier League era before one of our players in the top three inherited it. Nevertheless, any United fan will tell you what an electric player he was.
4. Edinson Cavani
This transfer had ‘Sanchez 2.0’ written all over it, but Cavani quickly proved that he wasn’t just another luxury signing by smashing home 17 goals in 39 appearances with No. 7 on his back.
3. David Beckham
Now we’re talking. While there is undoubtedly plenty of talent further down the list, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single United fan who would argue against the remaining players making up the top three.
And while Beckham’s legacy at Old Trafford can often be diluted by his celebrity status, make no mistake that the ingenious winger was one of United’s greatest players of the Premier League era.
2. Eric Cantona
An absolute colossus in the history books of United, Cantona almost single-handedly ensured the club’s Premier League dominance with his enigmatic performances spurring the club on to four titles in five years.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
The only player in the Premier League era to have won a Ballon d’Or and he did so with a season so outrageous that he set the pre-Mohamed Salah goalscoring record for a 38-game year in the process.
You could argue pretty soundly that Ronaldo didn’t have the consistency of Cantona, but nobody has made a bigger impact on the club, the league and the jersey than the man who has reclaimed the No. 7 shirt.
A mixed bag of No. 7s
Things went from 0 to 100 there, didn’t they?
While recent years have seen a curse plague the No. 7 jersey with Sanchez, Depay and Di Maria all struggling, the shirt had something of a Midas touch during the early years of the Premier League.
Only time will tell whether Ronaldo will able to maintain the upward trajectory that Cavani has helped to reestablish, but it’s fair to say that the Portuguese has a pretty good idea of what do.
After all, not only is the 36-year-old arguably the greatest goalscorer in football history, but let’s just say that things went pretty well the first time with No. 7 on his back…