Cristiano Ronaldo has finally taken control of the No 7 shirt he has become synonymous with throughout his playing career – although he must do much better than its previous owners if he is to break the United No 7 curse.
Ronaldo rejoined United after a 12-year hiatus on Tuesday, following fruitful spells at Real Madrid and Juventus in that time.
The Portuguese joined United for the first time in 2003, in a £12million move from Sporting Lisbon, and immediately set the league on fire with his dazzling tricks and ruthlessness in front of goal.
He won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League trophy in his time at United between 2003 and 2009 – winning a Ballon d’Or at the end of his time at Old Trafford, thus signalling his then-world record £80m move to Real Madrid.
And, twelve years later, the superstar has returned to the Theatre of Dreams to give fans one last show before his retirement.
However, it has not all been plain sailing since he left, in terms of United’s No 7 shirt – with not one player going on to mark their dominance in his absence. Express Sport takes a look at who wore it, and where it all went wrong.
For whatever reason, Michael Owen – despite his brilliance at Liverpool – was given the No 7 shirt at United upon his arrival, just a month after Ronaldo’s departure.
The injury prone poacher started life off well at Old Trafford, scoring an infamous decider against bitter rivals Manchester City.
However, just five league goals in 31 league appearances spread over three years, meant that Owen was never going to emulate the Portuguese.
Again, another ‘why?’ player. Valencia was actually a brilliant player for United, especially when he moved to the right-back role, noted for his tenaciousness.
However, it was clear upon ability – despite him being a good footballer – that he was not deserving of United’s No 7 shirt; and subsequently moved to 25 the season after.
Angel Di Maria
This was the transfer where everyone thought Ronaldo’s replacement was finally here.
Di Maria started life in Manchester like Ronaldo had left it, securing the September player of the month for the Premier League.
However, the Argentine quickly dropped off, moved to Paris Saint-Germain after a year, and openly criticises United in the press. Yikes.
Memphis was the boy wonder, and again similar to Ronaldo; young, from a strong academy, with international experience and a mean right foot.
However, the pressure got to Depay too soon, and despite his obvious talents, it was obvious that he would need a few more years to fully develop himself at United – which Old Trafford chiefs didn’t have the patience for.
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Of all the No 7’s at United, you’d have thought that Sanchez would finally break the mould. Scoring 80 goals at Arsenal in just 166 games for Arsenal, there was incredible hype around the Chilean’s move.
But with just five goals in 45 games, and a disappointing loan move to Inter Milan to boot, Sanchez proved to be the worst – and most expensive – of the lot.