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Rating every Manchester United number seven of the PL era

Manchester United have announced the signing of Mason Mount from Chelsea, with the midfielder having been handed the club’s prestigious number seven shirt.

Mount has completed his £60m move to the Red Devils to become Erik ten Hag’s first signing of the summer and the 24-year-old will now look to find success in a fable shirt number.

Some of the club’s all-time greats have worn the seven shirt and following Mount’s unveiling as the latest incumbent, we’ve rated each Manchester United player to wear the number seven in the Premier League era – since the introduction of permanent squad numbers in 1993/94.

Rating every Manchester United number seven of the Premier League era.

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona’s arrival at Manchester United is viewed as one of the most transformative signings of the Premier League era.

Manchester United were eighth in the table during the Premier League’s inaugural season, when a chance conversation regarded Leeds’ interest in Denis Irwin ended in the prospect of Cantona heading in the opposite direction instead.

Cantona had formed part of the Leeds team that had beaten the Red Devils to the title the previous campaign, but the controversial Frenchman was allowed to leave for Old Trafford in a £1m deal. His impact was immediate, as Cantona inspired Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to the title, in the process ending a 26-year wait to be crowned champions.

It was the start of a dominant era for the club, who won four of the first five Premier League titles with Cantona an integral presence in each. He scored 82 goals in 185 games, won PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards and produced countless moments of skill, swagger and genius.

An all-time great at Manchester United and one of the club’s most beloved figures.

Five of the most iconic goal celebrations in Premier League history: Cantona, Klinsmann, Fowler

Rating: 10/10 – Affectionately dubbed “King Eric” for good reason.

David Beckham

David Beckham inherited the number seven shirt following Cantona’s shock retirement at the end of the 1996/97 campaign. Beckham had formed part of an exciting collection of academy graduates to emerge from the club’s youth set-up and had started to forge a fine reputation with his dangerous deliveries and free-kick expertise.

Beckham became the footballing celebrity with the boy-band good looks and pop-star girlfriend, with brand Beckham emerging as the midfielder became one of the world’s most recognisable faces. Status off the pitch came alongside success on it, as Beckham won six Premier League titles, led the league for assists on three occasions and was named England captain.

He starred during the club’s treble success in 1998/99 and was named as runner-up for the Ballon d’Or after United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

Beckham scored 62 goals – including a record 18 free-kicks – and provided 80 assists in 262 league appearances for the Red Devils before a £23m move to Real Madrid in 2003.

Rating: 9/10 – One of the Premier League’s greatest creators.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Sir Alex Ferguson insisted that Cristiano Ronaldo took the number seven shirt from Beckham, a daunting task for a teenager with little experience of senior football. Ronaldo had wowed Manchester United in opposition colours during a friendly with Sporting Lisbon and a move was swiftly secured for the fleet-footed teenager.

Ronaldo’s six seasons with the club saw the Portuguese winger evolve from frustrating flair player to worldwide star, inspiring the Red Devils to consecutive Premier League titles between 2007 and 2009. The second of those came alongside Champions League success and saw Ronaldo score 42 goals in all competitions to win the Ballon d’Or for the first time.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals in all competitions and won the PFA Player of the Year (2), FWA Footballer of the Year (2), PFA Young Player of the Year, Premier League Golden Boot and European Golden Shoe among his individual honours.

He departed for Real Madrid in an £80m then-world record deal in 2009, before returning to Manchester United for a second spell in 2021. He scored 27 goals in 54 games after his return to Old Trafford.

Rating: 10/10 – Arguably the world’s finest footballer at his Manchester United best.

Michael Owen

Manchester United handed the number seven shirt to an experienced name after Ronaldo’s exit, having signed Michael Owen on a free transfer from relegated Newcastle.

Owen’s career had stalled due to fitness issues, but he arrived with a big reputation after scoring 144 goals in the Premier League during spells at Liverpool and Newcastle. The forward’s time with the club was restricted to a bit-part role, but he contributed when called upon and scored 17 goals in 52 appearances.

His highlights included a dramatic stoppage-time winner in the Manchester Derby and a Champions League hat-trick against Wolfsburg.

Rating: 5/10 – Useful, but a shadow of his former self.

Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia was signed in the same summer as Owen, before taking the number seven shirt after winning Manchester United’s Player of the Season award in 2011/12.

The following season proved less productive for the Ecuadorian as he scored just once in 30 league appearances and Valencia chose to revert back to his previous shirt number, 25, at the end of the campaign.

“It was more to do with the fact that 25 was the number I had when I first came to the club and I played well wearing that,” Valencia told the Daily Mirror.

“So I thought ‘why don’t I go back to 25? I had good times and good fortune in that shirt.”

Valencia spent a decade with the Red Devils and made 339 appearances for the club in all competitions. He reverted from right-winger to right-back in his latter career and captained the Red Devils to Europa League success in 2017.

Rating: 7.5/10 – Struggled in the seven shirt, but a fine servant at Old Trafford.

Angel Di Maria

Angel Di Maria was the headline arrival as Louis van Gaal looked to rebuild Manchester United, securing the winger for a British record transfer fee of £59.7 million just weeks after his role in Real Madrid’s Champions League success.

Di Maria began brilliantly with a series of exciting performances in the Premier League, with a stunning scooped effort at Leicester evidence of his match-winning talent. That form failed to last however, and performances soon deteriorated amid suggestions that the Argentine was unsettled in England.

After just one season he was allowed to leave and signed for Paris Saint-Germain in a £44.3m deal. He has since slammed the club with various criticisms of his time in the Premier League, including one rant in which he said he ‘didn’t give a fuck’ about the number seven shirt.

“I didn’t give a fuck about the Manchester United number seven, at first they talked to me a lot about it, it was just a shirt,” Di Maria told TyC Sports.

“My problem at Manchester was the coach. Van Gaal was the worst of my career. I would score, assist, and the next day he would show me my misplaced passes. He displaced me from one day to the other, he didn’t like players being more than him.”

It’s fair to say Di Maria is not the most popular figure at Manchester United…

Rating: 3/10 – Big price-tag, big expectations, big disappointment

Memphis Depay

Excitement was high when Manchester United announced the signing of Memphis Depay, with the forward having finished the previous season as the Eredivisie’s top scorer as PSV won the title.

Depay arrived with a reputation for scoring goals and crowd-lifting football from a wide role, but struggled to make an impact and scored just twice in 33 league appearances.

After failing to make an impression under either Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho, he was allowed to leave for Lyon after just 18 months at Old Trafford.

Rating: 3/10 – Poor, but perhaps premature in his exit. Has rebuilt since leaving English football.

Alexis Sanchez

The biggest disappointment in the myriad of market mistakes at Manchester United in recent years?

Alexis Sanchez arrived at the club with a reputation as one of the Premier League’s leading talents, one established after four spectacular seasons at Arsenal that brought 80 goals in 166 games. The Chile international was signed in a swap-deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the delight of the Red Devils fans, but endured a disastrous time at Old Trafford.

He looked a pale imitation of the talent who had tormented defences at Arsenal and scored just three league goals in 18 months, all while receiving club-record wages of a reported £400,000-a-week. There was precious little return on that incredible investment, with Sanchez even receiving an additional pay-off as United sought to shed the flop from their wage bill.

Rating: 1/10 – An ineffective, expensive imposter of his Arsenal best.

Edinson Cavani

Signed on a free transfer after breaking Paris Saint-Germain’s goal record during a successful spell in France, the veteran forward proved a crowd favourite across two seasons at Old Trafford.

The Uruguayan scored 17 goals in 39 appearances during his first season with the club, before injuries impacted his ability to match that return following campaign. Full of humble hard-work, he vacated the seven shirt in his second season after the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rating: 7/10 – Gave everything whenever called upon. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Read – Five promoted players to watch out for in 2023/24

Read Also – Six of the most influential Italians in Premier League history

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