Every Player to Wear Man Utd's Number 7 Shirt Since Cristiano Ronaldo

Adam Aladay
Oct 6, 2020, 7:20 PM GMT+1
Sanchez failed to deliver at Man Utd
Sanchez failed to deliver at Man Utd | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

The number seven shirt at Manchester United has been donned by some true legends.

But since the departure of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2009, a number of players have tried and failed (some more miserably than others) to deal with the weight of expectation on their shoulders after donning that famous jersey.

Indeed, since the Portuguese forward left the club, the five players to have worn the jersey have scored a combined...14 league goals for the club.

Yep, that's correct - a grand tally of 14. During Ronaldo's final season at the club alone, he managed 18 league goals in 33 games.

Of course, goals aren't everything and, more often than not, they don't tell the complete story. But since Ronaldo, player after player has failed to deliver with the number seven on their backs. However, the 2020/21 season will now see new signing Edinson Cavani try and break the 'curse' of the shirt.

Here, we take a look at the players to have worn the number seven shirt since Ronaldo left and how they have failed to live up to expectations.

1. Michael Owen

Owen only made 52 appearances for the club
Owen only made 52 appearances for the club | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson lost both Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez in the summer of 2009 and, as a result, he was on the lookout for a new striker to add depth up front.

Ferguson turned to Michael Owen, with the former Liverpool striker joining on a free transfer after departing Newcastle. Considering the void left by Ronaldo, fans were desperate for a star player - perhaps in their peak years - to come in and take over the shirt.

But instead, Owen was a player who was still continuing to struggle with injuries, while he wasn't exactly getting any younger either. In total, Owen scored 17 goals in 52 appearances for the club, although he did start just 18 games.

Despite him being nothing more than a squad player when fit, Owen did provide fans with a few moments that will long in the memory, notably his last-gap winner in the Manchester derby.

Oh, and the move benefited him as well as he was finally able to get his hands on a Premier League winners medal. Owen's remarks after winning the title were blunt, but very true: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

2. Antonio Valencia

Valencia only wore the shirt for one season
Valencia only wore the shirt for one season | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Antonio Valencia arrived at Old Trafford during the same summer as Owen, with Ferguson actually offering the player the seven shirt before turning to the Englishman. However, Valencia turned down the opportunity.

The former Wigan man wasn't the most glamorous footballer, nor was he the most lethal in front of goal. But it was his work ethic that made him such a fan favourite. Valencia was Mr Consistent, the player Ferguson could always rely on in every game.

After an excellent 2011/12 season, Valencia was named the club's player of the year before being handed the prestigious shirt. However, he would only hold onto it for one year before returning to number 25.

But rather than the added pressure that comes with the jersey, Valencia has since insisted that it was a matter of feeling more comfortable with 25 on his back. Indeed, this is the character and type of player Valencia was at Man Utd.

During his time wearing number seven, Valencia only managed one goal - although he did struggle with injuries.

In total, Valencia made 339 appearances for the Red Devils before departing in the summer of 2019, scoring 25 times and providing 62 assists during his ten-year stay.

3. Angel Di Maria

Di Maria didn't last long at Man Utd
Di Maria didn't last long at Man Utd | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Angel Di Maria's transfer to Man Utd is a prime example of where the club have failed since Ferguson retired. The Argentine never looked like he wanted to be there, looking unsettled and uninterested during his stay.

It was a case of wanting to make a 'statement' signing in order to show that the Red Devils still meant business. But the problem, however, was that the money was doing the talking - rather than the player's eagerness to join or his desire to be part of the footballing project.

There was plenty of excitement as he shone in the first few weeks, but his form quickly dipped...drastically.

The signing of Di Maria paved the way for a number of high-profile, big money transfers for United - most of which resulted in failure.

Now with PSG, it has been made clear by his wife and his teammates just how much he now dislikes Man Utd.

At least, it appears as though lessons are finally being learned.

4. Memphis Depay

There was plenty of excitement about Memphis
There was plenty of excitement about Memphis | Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Perhaps it was a case of too much, too young for Memphis at Man Utd. Following the departure of Di Maria, the shirt was handed to Memphis - a player the club hoped would don the jersey for years to come.

With skill, pace, creativity and a real eye for goal, Memphis had all the attributes to succeed at United and it seemed as though they had made an excellent signing.

But whether it was a case of mental strength or the team's overall inconsistency not allowing Depay with the chance to showcase his talents regularly, the Dutchman struggled to make much of an impact.

His talent was clear for all to see, with fans witnessing his moments of supreme quality. But it was all far too irregular, with the forward also often disappearing for large parts of games.

Now with Lyon, Memphis has been putting in consistently impressive performances for a while and is showing why United paid so much to bring him to the club back in 2015.

5. Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez has now joined Inter permanently
Sanchez has now joined Inter permanently | Ben Early/Getty Images

Alexis Sanchez at Man Utd:

- Cost the club around £28,800 for each touch of the ball he made at the club.
- His tally of three Premier League goals meant each strike was worth £19.8m.
- Cost more than £40m in wages.

Sanchez's Manchester United nightmare is finally over.

Sanchez joined United in the peak of his powers, hence why the Red Devils fought so hard to land him.

But while he claimed rather unconvincingly that he had always 'dreamt' of playing at Old Trafford, he seemingly only joined after United came in with a mega contract offer to beat local rivals Man City to his signature.

Sure, you can look at the stats - five goals in 45 games - to see just how poor he was for United, but the problems were so much worse. He never fit in and never really looked part of the squad. This had a major impact on the pitch as he gave the ball away time after time and struggled to gain any real understanding of his teammates' games.

United had enough and offloaded him to Inter for the 2019/20 season, where he has managed to shine in parts. The Italian giants have since taken up the option to make the move permanent, with the Red Devils opting to pay him off in order to get him off their books.

Sanchez was a mistake United have paid for, so much so they didn't care about a transfer fee anymore. Over to you, Edinson...

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