The No.7 jersey at Manchester United has an iconic status. Over the years, some of the greatest of the greatest have donned the shirt and have written their names in the club’s folklore, having led the Red Devils to glory.

From legends such as Nobby Stiles, George Best, Bryan Robson, to Premier League greats like Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, the No.7 shirt at Manchester United has been passed onto some of the finest in the history of the game.

In recent years though, the players that have worn the No.7 jersey have struggled to live up to the standards set by their predecessors, somewhat tarnishing the legacy of the legendary shirt in the process.

Since Ronaldo’s departure in 2009, five players have been handed the No.7 shirt, but none of them have been able to do justice to the reputation of the jersey.

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Immediately after Ronaldo was allowed to leave, former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker, Michael Owen was given the No.7 shirt. 

While the former England international had his moments, most notably the injury-time winner in the Manchester derby, he was hardly able to carry forward the legacy of the No. 7 successfully. In his three years at United, Owen wore the No.7 shirt and managed 52 appearances overall, bagging just 17 goals.

Post Owen’s departure in 2013, Antonio Valencia was handed the number after a fine 2011/12 season. While there was no denying the Ecuadorian’s commitment to the cause, he hardly managed to excel wearing the iconic jersey. 

Valencia just managed one goal in 40 appearances during the 2012/13 campaign. Early into the next term, the Ecuadorian decided to vacate the No.7 jersey, as the pressure got to him.

The following summer, when Angel Di Maria signed for Manchester United, fans believed that they had found the true successor to Ronaldo, who can carry forward the torch. And the kind of start the Argentine enjoyed at Old Trafford showed that the supporters weren’t wrong in putting their faith in the former Real Madrid man.

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However, things unravelled soon enough as Di Maria struggled for form and confidence in the second half of the season, with United’s then manager, Louis van Gaal playing him out of position constantly. Eventually, only a year after he signed, Di Maria left Manchester United after 32 matches, in which he managed just four goals, although he did assist 12 more.

Manchester United’s No.7s since Ronaldo’s departure

Appearances (all competitions)

Goals scored (all competitions)

Michael Owen



Antonio Valencia



Angel Di Maria



Memphis Depay



Alexis Sanchez






The following summer, another big-money player arrived in the form of Memphis Depay and started out strongly as well. But he too failed to live up to the expectations much like the ones that he had followed, with his time at Manchester United becoming more memorable for him missing sitters after sitters.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival didn’t help matters for the Netherlands international, managing just seven goals in 53 matches before leaving the club in January 2017.

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Then came, perhaps the most high-profile victim of the No.7 shirt at Manchester United, the biggest flop to have donned legendary jersey. 

Alexis Sanchez, signed from Arsenal in January 2018, on massive wages, spent a year and a half at the club, producing a paltry return of five goals in 45 matches, before joining Inter Milan on loan last summer. The Chilean playing the piano in his unveiling remains his best performance for the Red Devils till date.

Antonio Valencia had excelled prior to taking over the No.7 shirt and after vacating it. Both Depay and Di Maria have thrived since moving on from Manchester United, while prior to taking over the No.7 at United, Alexis Sanchez was one of the best attackers in the Premier League.

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It all indicates towards the fact that the pressure of living up to the expectations and the responsibilities that come with Manchester United’s No.7 shirt perhaps got too much. 

The fact that an ageing Michael Owen, in the twilight years of his career, was the most prolific No.7 for United since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2009 is a testament to the club’s struggles to find a suitable successor and carry forward the legacy of the iconic jersey. 

In many ways, it is symptomatic of the problems with the club’s transfer policies in recent years, especially since Ed Woodward took over the reins of the transfer handlings.

Jadon Sancho’s potential arrival at Old Trafford this summer is being seen as the signing that will bring an end to this curse. But will the England international join, will he finally be able to get rid of the hex, or become the next high-profile victim of Manchester United’s famed No.7 shirt?