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Appreciating the hits and misses of Man United’s number 19 shirt in the PL era

Manchester United completed the signing of Amad Diallo this week after initially agreeing a deal for the teenage winger during the summer, the Atalanta youngster putting pen to paper on a long-term contract at Old Trafford.

The club’s decision to spend £37m on an 18-year-old with limited senior experience is a testament to the faith the Red Devils’ recruitment staff have in the new addition, Diallo predicted to have a huge future following his exciting emergence in Italian football.

Diallo will be given time to adapt to the demands of the Premier League but has been designated the club’s number 19 shirt, one which has had varied degrees of success throughout the Premier League era.

We’ve decided to look back at the shirt’s previous holders and appreciate the hits and misses of United’s number 19s:

Nicky Butt

Manchester United’s fabled ‘Class of ’92‘ are cemented into the club’s history, the six academy graduates who came through the Red Devils’ ranks at a similar time before enjoying huge success in the senior side.

Nicky Butt is perhaps the most overlooked member of that contingent with the midfielder having been a fine footballer, making his first-team debut during the Premier League’s inaugural season and wearing the number 19 during his first four seasons.

Butt was a combative midfield star who brought energy and tenacity to the engine room, starring during the club’s domestic double-winning season in 1995/96 with 41 appearances in all competitions.

The former England international later switched to the number eight and played a key role in the club’s Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble in 1999, making 387 appearances for United before later spells at the likes of Newcastle and Birmingham.

Chris Casper

Chris Casper is another player who played in the club’s famous FA Youth Cup-winning team in ’92, though his success in the senior side was limited to just two league appearances during the 1996/97 season.

The defender – capped once by England at U21 level – only made four appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils before leaving for second tier Reading in a £300,000 deal, though saw his career prematurely ended by a double leg fracture at just 24-years-old.

He later moved into management and spent three seasons in charge of Bury.

Ronny Johnsen

An often unsung hero at the heart of Manchester United’s successes either side of the millennium, Ronny Johnsen was handed the number 19 shirt for his debut season following a £1.2m move from Besiktas.

The Norwegian defender proved a valuable addition to Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad and featured regularly as the Premier League title was secured in his maiden campaign, winning a further two winners’ medals over his six-season stay.

Johnsen swapped to the number 5 following his first season and played an instrumental role in the club’s treble-winning season in 1998/99, starring at the heart of the defence alongside Jaap Stam and starting each of the deciding fixtures in a climatic end to the campaign.

Injuries sadly prevented the versatile defender from extending his legacy with the club but he departed English football with 150 appearances in all competitions and having won five major honours in just six seasons.

Dwight Yorke

Having seen an Arsenal side transformed by the arrival of Arsene Wenger complete a domestic double in 1997/98, Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out on a club-record deal for Dwight Yorke in a bid to wrestle back the Premier League title from north London.

Yorke has starred at Aston Villa and arrived with a burgeoning reputation, one he would only enhance with the Red Devils to become their greatest-ever Premier League number 19.

The forward struck up a sensational understanding with strike partner Andy Cole and was named as the Premier League’s Player of the Season during his debut campaign, winning the division’s Golden Boot after a 29-goal campaign inspired United to a historic treble.

That success was the first of three successive Premier League titles for United with Yorke scoring 48 goals in just 96 league appearances for the club, his partnership in telepathic tandem with Cole amongst the most iconic of the modern era.

Ricardo

Perhaps the most forgettable figure on this list, former Spain goalkeeper Ricardo was signed by the club after forming part of the national team squad for the 2002 World Cup, in the hope he could provide competition for the likes of Fabien Barthez and Roy Carroll.

He spent three seasons with the Red Devils but made just five appearances across all competitions before returning to Spain, though did save a David Dunn penalty on his sole Premier League appearance against Blackburn.

Eric Djemba-Djemba

Manchester United’s attempts to overhaul their engine room in the summer of 2002 saw some questionable investments, a series of flops headlined by Brazilian midfielder Kleberson and Cameroon international Eric Djemba-Djemba.

The latter inherited the number 19 shirt from the aforementioned Ricardo in 2003 and was signed to add some bite to the club’s midfield options, though he failed to live up to expectations and struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League.

He made just 39 appearances before being shipped off to Aston Villa, once again failing to impress and later enjoying a nomadic career that took in spells at an eclectic collection of clubs including Qatar SC, St Mirren and Chennaiyin FC.

Edwin van der Sar

The aforementioned Ricardo formed part of a botched succession plan of goalkeepers following the departure of Peter Schmeichel, the void left by the Dane’s departure taking some six years to truly fill.

Edwin van der Sar’s arrival from Fulham was the deal that finally saw United have a reliable number one, even if the goalkeeping great adorned the number 19 shirt during his maiden campaign at Old Trafford.

The veteran Netherlands international became one of the club’s great bargain buys during a glittering six-year spell, winning four league titles and the Champions League – Van der Sar’s heroics helping defeat Chelsea in the first-ever all-English final in 2008.

During that time the goalkeeper also set a new Premier League record after going a staggering 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal, whilst he also became the oldest player to win the title following the club’s 2010/11 success, aged 40 years and 205 days.

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique has become one of the best defenders of his generation during a career of incredible success at the highest level, though the centre-back struggled for opportunities during a four-year spell at Manchester United in his early career.

Pique made just 23 appearances in all competitions, his finest season coming wearing the 19 shirt as United completed a Premier League and Champions League double in 2007/08.

The Spaniard left that summer to return to Barcelona, where his plethora of success includes eight league titles and three Champions League trophies, in addition to winning both the World Cup and European Championships during an international career that yielded 102 caps.

Danny Welbeck

United’s most recent wearers of the 19 shirt have all been academy graduates with Danny Welbeck having worn the shirt for six seasons after coming through the ranks, the forward having burst onto the scene with a stunning goal on his Premier League debut against Stoke in 2008.

The teenager gradually established himself in the first-team setup and became a regular after returning from a productive loan spell at Sunderland, forming part of the side that were crowned as champions in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in 2012/13.

Welbeck made 142 appearances in all competitions before signing for Arsenal after falling out-of-favour, though injuries have sadly blighted the 42-cap England international’s career with the 30-year-old currently at Brighton.

James Wilson

James Wilson is another home-grown product who made an immediate impact at Old Trafford, scoring twice on his Premier League debut after being handed a shock starting opportunity against Hull in 2014.

Wilson was highly regarded in the youth set-up but that double was as good as it got for the forward, despite being handed the number 19 shirt for the 2015/16 season in which he made just one Premier League appearance.

Wilson made 20 appearances for the Red Devils in all competitions and scored four goals, spending time on loan at the likes of Brighton, Derby, Sheffield United and Aberdeen before a permanent move to the latter.

He is currently playing his football with Salford City, the ambitious League Two outfit owned by Manchester United’s fabled ‘Class of ’92’ members.

Marcus Rashford

Diallo will be hoping to emulate the previous wearer of the 19 shirt with Marcus Rashford having cemented himself as a crucial figure for Manchester United since his emergence almost five years ago.

Rashford made headlines after netting twice on his senior bow against Midtjylland in the Europa League before another double – in a thrilling victory over Arsenal – just days later on his Premier League debut.

Since then the forward has gone from strength to strength, improving his goal return each season and delivering a career-best 22 goals in all competitions last season.

Rashford’s increasing influence was rewarded with the number 10 shirt and he remains a key figure in the current side, scoring 14 times in just 28 appearances this season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s league leaders.

Pivotal for club and country and a fine example both on and off the pitch, the teenage Diallo could do worse than follow the path set by the Red Devils’ home-grown hero.

Read – Five times Premier League teams regretted letting players join rival clubs

Read Also – Andrei Kanchelskis: The Soviet secret weapon who took the Premier League by surprise

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