Ranking every player to wear No.7 for Man Utd in the Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo will always be associated with Manchester United’s iconic No.7 shirt – but how have all the incumbents of the shirt fared in the Premier League era?
Just nine players have worn the jersey since official squad numbers were introduced in the 1993-94 season, but they’ve not all been successful.
We’ve ranked every player to wear the No.7 shirt for United in the Premier League era from worst to best.
9. Alexis Sanchez
The less said about this one the better.
Sanchez arrived at United in January 2018 amid high expectations and on a reported £400,000-per-week contract.
But the Chile international looked like a shadow of his former self at Old Trafford, scoring just five goals in 45 appearances for the Red Devils before being shipped out on loan to Inter and then landing himself a big pay off to p*ss off permanently.
8. Memphis Depay
Depay was tipped to be the next big thing after joining United from PSV in 2015 and reportedly requested the No.7 shirt.
The winger provided a few flashes of his quality but failed to establish himself as a regular player under either Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho.
He scored just two Premier League goals for the club before joining Lyon on a permanent deal in January 2017.
7. Angel Di Maria
Di Maria was excellent during his first few weeks at United – his fabulous chipped goal against Leicester City was a particular highlight – and the club looked to have pulled off a coup.
But everything went downhill from there and the Argentina international fell out of favour under Louis van Gaal after struggling for consistency.
He spent just one underwhelming season at Old Trafford and joined PSG for £44.3million in 2015.
“I didn’t give a fuck about the Manchester United No.7, at first they talked to me a lot about it, it was just a shirt,” Di Maria told TyC Sports in 2021.
“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.”
When Di Maria scored this for @ManUtd, nobody would have predicted his time at the club would have been so underwhelming and short-lived. Solved the fans empty dreams!
Angel Di Maria- Leicester vs Man United 2014/15
— Top Bins Talk (@TopBinsTalk) April 7, 2020
6. Antonio Valencia
Having won United’s Player of the Year award in 2011-12, Valencia was then handed the prestigious No.7 shirt.
But the pressure seemed to weigh him down and the winger struggled to find his best form in 2012-13, scoring one goal in 30 Premier League appearances.
He decided to vacate the shirt in 2013 and found a new lease of life after reverting back to his old No.25.
“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 in 2013.
“So I thought, ‘Why don’t I go back to 25?’ I had good times and good fortune in that shirt.”
5. Edinson Cavani
Despite not spending too long in the No.7, Cavani did himself justice with a place in our top five.
PSG’s all-time leading goalscorer joined United on a free transfer in 2020 and quickly became a fan favourite at Old Trafford, scoring 17 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions in his debut season.
The Uruguay international agreed to vacate the No.7 shirt following Ronaldo’s return and was subsequently much more underwhelming as a peripheral squad player wearing the No.21.
“I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to have the number seven shirt again,” Ronaldo said. “So I would like to say a huge thank you to Edi (Cavani) for this incredible gesture.”
4. Michael Owen
Owen arrived at Old Trafford during the twilight of his career, and fans were shocked when the former Liverpool star claimed the No.7 shirt.
The striker found himself behind Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in the pecking order and injury problems plagued his three years at the club.
He still scored 17 goals in 52 appearances, and that 96th-minute winner against Manchester City in 2009 will live long in the memory.
3. David Beckham
The fact that he’s only third on this list says a lot about the top two.
A member of the Class of 92, Beckham was already an established first-team member when he switched to the No.7 shirt in 1997.
The midfielder played a starring role in the club’s greatest ever season as United won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in 1998-99.
Despite his acrimonious exit for Real Madrid in 2003, the 45-year-old is still remembered fondly at Old Trafford.
2. Eric Cantona
In 1993, Cantona became the first United player to be officially assigned the No.7 in the Premier League. The forward left an incredible legacy for others to follow.
He was the catalyst for their success and helped the club to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups before announcing his shock retirement in 1997.
The former France international had scored 82 goals in 185 appearances for United and is heralded as one of the club’s all-time greats.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo had some huge boots to fill when he inherited the shirt from Beckham in 2003, but the winger proved to be the perfect successor.
He developed into one of the best players in the world, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League during his six years at Old Trafford.
The Portugal international followed in Beckham’s footsteps once again by joining Real Madrid in an £80million deal in 2009.
After 12 years at Madrid and Juventus, he returned to United for a second spell and still banged in the goals despite the team’s underperformance. Twenty-four goals in 38 appearances last term – where would they have been without him?