Over the years, Manchester United have had an abundance of quality players, many of which have worn the now iconic number seven shirt. The names of the previous “owners” of the famous shirt will be synonymous with titles, cups, goalscoring and the like. George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and, more recently, Cristiano Ronaldo all wore the shirt and delivered the goods. Just lately this prestigious number seems to be unable to gravitate towards anyone of real class, a talisman in which to drag the team along when underperforming or score an outrageous goal to light up a dull game.
Both Beckham and Ronaldo set sail from Old Trafford, heading south to the Spanish capital and the bright lights of Real Madrid. United left heavy in pocket but empty in match winner occupying this magical shirt. Anyone who wore it automatically upped their game by 10%, but in recent seasons it’s been weighing a little heavy on the shoulders of the players.
Michael Owen 2009-12
Signed in the summer of ’09 on a free after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Owen, although staying for three seasons, was past his deadliest best. Five goals in 31 appearances was hardly a striker in his prime, but a hat-trick in a Champions League game away to Wolfsburg and last minute winner in a cracking 4-3 local derby win plus the equaliser, before going off injured, in the League Cup Final against Aston Villa were all memorable moments. Owen was mildly impressive but not as explosive as his predecessors.
Antonio Valencia 2012-14
The Ecuadorian winger was given the number seven shirt for just two seasons and, although he only scored four times, United went on to lift the title in Sir Alex’s last season. Valencia was to be stripped of the number and reinstated at 25, his original shirt.
Angel Di Maria 2014-15
A British record signing, Angel Di Maria was brought in to add a little pizazz to Louis Van Gaal’s United side. Signed from Real Madrid for a then record £59.7million, Di Maria was handed the iconic shirt and expected to produce some magical moments at Old Trafford. Unfortunately, his stay was only one season. 27 appearances yielded only three goals and very little flashes of the brilliance he showed at Benfica and Real Madrid. Di Maria’s head was turned by the lure of big money in the French Capital and he soon departed.
Memphis Depay 2015-17
Depay joined for a handsome fee in the region of £30million from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. A stellar season previous, in which Memphis had scored 22 goals on the way to PSV winning the Dutch Eredivisie, persuaded LVG to bring him to United in the hope of firing them back to glory. In a press conference he said, “wearing the famous number seven doesn’t scare me, it excites me!” Unfortunately for Depay it must have excited him so much that he forgot he was actually a footballer. A torrid eighteen months in which the young Dutch forward only found the net three times in 33 appearances, saw Depay head away from Old Trafford having delivered a Michael Owen type return!
Antoine Griezmann 2017?
If social media is to be believed then the summer of 2017 will see the arrival of another Frenchman to Old Trafford. Antoine Griezmann has not said yet if these reports are accurate, but also not denied them meaning excitement is growing. His brother cannot seem to help himself, posting pictures on Instagram of Old Trafford with question marks in the comment section, a tease for any die hard Red Devil for sure! Griezmann currently wears number seven for both club and country, so what odds on him wearing the “in need of serious TLC number seven shirt” next season? Watch this space and fingers crossed.