Manchester United have agreed a deal with Juventus to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford after 12 years away but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner may not be able to reclaim his famous shirt number
Cristiano Ronaldo could be blocked from taking Edinson Cavani’s No.7 shirt when he returns to Manchester United.
This is due to Cavani already being registered as the club’s No.7 for the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Ronaldo’s 2009 departure to Real Madrid for a world-record fee of £80million left the number to be used by a number of Red Devils – such as Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay – who all fell under the weight of the iconic digit.
United’s No.7 has been worn by legends like George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and, of course, ‘CR7.’
Although he wore 28 and Sporting Lisbon as a teenager and No.9 in his first year in Madrid – a number which Anthony Martial occupies at Old Trafford – Ronaldo’s brand relies on the number for recognition.
Nevertheless, the three-time Premier League winner is set to be denied his old number.
Premier League rule M.5 states that Cavani must keep the No. 7 shirt for the whole season.
If Ronaldo wants to wear the number in top-flight matches, Cavani must leave or United could receive special dispensation from the Premier League board.
Such a change would be unprecedented.
In Spain, where squad numbers in La Liga are not finalised until the end of August, players can change, whereas in the Premier League, squad numbers at the start of the season and a number can only be reused if the player leaves.
The Champions League, however, could give Ronaldo a way to wear No. 7.
In 2017-18 following the sale of Alexis Sanchez to United, Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan wore 7 in domestic matches and 77 in the Europa League.
Back in the Red Devils’ treble-winning term, 1998-99, Wes Brown wore 30 in the Champions League and 24 in the Premier League.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand may have let something slip, though, by telling FIVE : “Cavani, I have to say, what a man.
“He saw who was coming to town and gave up the no.7 shirt. Maybe, I don’t know…”
The Uruguayan broke the so-called curse on the number last season, scoring 10 goals in his final 11 games to cement himself as a cult hero in the red half of Manchester.
Supporters have speculated that, due to the striker not yet appearing in league play in 21-22, top-flight chiefs could allow him to simply choose a new number.
Pool via REUTERS)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was reportedly not keen on allowing Jadon Sancho to ask Cavani for his number upon signing from Borussia Dortmund for an initial £73million in July.
In August, Raphael Varane was said to have requested the No.4 shirt but Phil Jones refused to give it up, with the former Real centre-back chasing 19.
Cavani told the club’s website upon his arrival when asked about taking on the No.7: “It’s a great number, I got to wear it with the national team as well. But I honestly believe that the number you wear is more of an off-the-field thing.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Man Utd
“That’s where it counts for more. I know that once you’re out on the pitch, the number you have on your shirt has no influence,” explained the 34-year-old.
“But when you get the chance to pull on the no.7 shirt at Manchester United, which has been worn by some top, top players who have been legends here in this country and at this club, it really is a nice responsibility to have.
He added: “I enjoy challenges and, as I said to you, I hope that I can do it great justice and leave it in as high regard as the many great players who have worn this shirt before me.”