When Manchester United announced their squad numbers for the upcoming season earlier this week, there were two talking points.
One was the fact that the number 6 had been left empty, fuelling plenty of speculation about the imminent arrival of a certain Paul Pogba.
The other was that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had taken the number nine shirt, meaning Anthony Martial became number 11.
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Martial performed impressively during his debut season wearing United’s number nine, scoring 17 goals in all competitions - not bad for a 20-year-old. The Red Devils know that the Frenchman has the ability to become a world-class player, highlighted by the fact that they splashed a potential £57.6 million last year.
However, no matter how highly they regard him, it seems Ibrahimovic has preference when it comes to shirt numbers. That’s because respectable journalist Mohamed Bouhafsi, from RMC Sport, has revealed the surprising story behind the Swede getting his hands on the number nine.
After the squad numbers were announced, Ibrahimovic tweeted a picture of his shirt with the number nine, accompanied with the caption: "I chose the number 9 @manchesterunited."
And it seems very much to be a case of him 'choosing' that number.
Bouhafsi claims that Manchester United handed Zlatan his required number without even telling Martial. It may seem petty but, as Bouhafsi later points out, some players take it rather seriously.
He points out to look at Martial’s official Facebook page. If you did that, you would find that Martial’s official logo is AM9 and his Facebook handle is “@AnthonyMartialAM9.”
All that for a 34-year-old that has only signed a one-year deal at the club.
It may seem like a small issue, but we’re not sure Martial will feel that way. And it certainly gives an insight into how the United hierarchy will play out inside the changing room.
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