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Was the number 7 jersey ‘cursed’? – United’s 12 year struggle to find an heir as the king eventually becomes his own heir

Recall that in 2009, Manchester United had to part ways with their most prized asset at the time, Cristiano Ronaldo. Prior to his move away from Man Utd, the Portuguese had dazzled for his English club as he became the club’s first Balon d’or winner since 1968 and also the first premier league player to win the FIFA player of the year in 2008.

Ronaldo joined Real Madrid as the most expensive player at that time in a record breaking deal worth £80 million and 12 years, 4 Balon d’ors, and many trophies later Cristiano Ronaldo is back at the club where it all started with the Portuguese retaking his famous number 7 jersey.

Within the 12 years Ronaldo has been out of Man Utd, the club struggled to find an heir or a replacement.

In this article, we’ll take a look at all the players who wore the famous number 7 jersey and how they fared with iconic number written at the back of their shirts.

1. Michael Owen

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In 2009, English striker Michael Owen joined Man Utd as a free agent. As a free agent joining in the year he was to turn 30, nothing as special as Ronaldo was expected. Though, the Englishman arrived with pedigree as he had starred and made a good reputation for himself at arch rivals Liverpool and the English national team.

Incessant injuries plagued Owen’s 3 year spell at Manchester United as he struggled to get ahead of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in the strikers pecking order.

The Englishman scored 17 goals in 52 Man Utd appearances and he’d be best remembered by Man Utd fans for his late winner in the Manchester derby in 2009 where Man Utd edged out Man City 4-3 at Old Trafford.

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2. Antonio Valencia

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At the end of the 2011/12 season, Antonio Valencia was named Man Utd player of the season after an impressive campaign for the Red devils wearing the number 25 shirt.

The Ecuadorian was then handed the number 7 shirt for the following season but struggled to hit the form that saw him become Man Utd’s best player the season before. After just 1 season and and a solitary goal in 30 premier league appearances, Valencia decided to switch back to his previous jersey number 25.

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3. Angel Di Maria

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Di Maria would certainly be ranked amongst the biggest flops in Man Utd’s history as the Argentine who joined for £59.7 million from Real Madrid in 2014 failed to live up to expectations.

Despite having a promising start to life at Manchester United in his first few months, Angel Di Maria experienced a dip in form after returning from injury at the start of the new year and he subsequently fell out of favour with then Man Utd boss Louis Van Gaal which meant he couldn’t rediscover his mojo until the end of the season. In August 2015, Di Maria left Man Utd for PSG after just one season in the premier league.

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4. Memphis Depay

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In 2015, Dutch sensation Memphis Depay joined Man Utd from PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

The then 21 year old had announced himself to the world a year before joining Man Utd at the 2014 world cup in Brazil after brilliant performances for his country Netherlands and many football fans and pundits alike had tipped Depay to become the next big thing after joining the Red devils.

However, things did not go as planned for the Dutchman as he had to leave Manchester United for Olympique Lyonnais after just 2 seasons and he has since then been enjoying a brilliant career first at Lyon and now at Barcelona.

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5. Alexis Sanchez

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This should rank among the biggest failed moves in history.

In January 2018, it was announced that Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez had signed for Man Utd from Arsenal in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way.

Alexis Sanchez joining Man Utd was initially seen as a huge win for the club amidst strong interest in the player from city rivals, Man City.

Sanchez was given the number 7 jersey and despite reportedly being on a mouthwatering £350,000 per week wages, Alexis Sanchez struggled to hit the form that saw him become one of the hottest properties in the premier league at Arsenal and after scoring just 5 goals in 45 appearances for the Red devils, Sanchez was loaned out to Inter Milan in the summer of 2019. One year later, the deal was made permanent which saw the player take a huge pay cut.

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6. Edison Cavani

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Edison Cavani joined Manchester United last summer as a free agent after the expiration of his contract at PSG and the Uruguayan striker was handed the number 7 shirt and was expected to be a short term solution to United’s striking problems.

At the age of 34, Edison Cavani is still a potent weapon in the Man Utd attack and according to many, he had broken the curse on the number 7 shirt in his first season at the club. And El Matador as he is fondly called has so far shipped in crucial goals for Man Utd much to the delight of the Red devils’ faithfuls.

Given his age, Cavani is already at the latter stages of his career and with just few 90 minutes games under his belt last season, El Matador scored 16 goals in 45 appearances for Manchester United and he’s now switched to the number 21 shirt paving the way for Cristiano Ronaldo to don the famous number 7 once again.

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