Manchester United explore possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing No 7 shirt

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Manchester United explore possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing No 7 shirt - Shutterstock
Manchester United explore possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo wearing No 7 shirt - Shutterstock

Cristiano Ronaldo using the No 7 this season has been discussed by those involved in the deal to bring him back to Manchester United, raising the prospect of him wearing the iconic shirt number.

United would need special dispensation from the Premier League for Ronaldo to take the shirt number from his first spell at the club, which is currently worn by Edinson Cavani and previously by George Best, Bryan Robson, David Beckham and Eric Cantona.

Ronaldo’s sensational £19.7million return to Old Trafford came after the season started with Cavani given No 7 and rules stating the Uruguayan must keep the shirt during he campaign unless he leaves for another club.

However, it is understood that asking for permission to change shirt numbers was broached in talks when the deal was agreed and will now hinge on Cavani and the Premier League agreeing. Anthony Martial had to give up the No 9 shirt following Zlatan Ibrahimovic's arrival in 2016, leading to some disgruntlement.

The Premier League and United have not commented on Ronaldo’s shirt number and a final decision is set to be made when he is unveiled, with the 36-year-old currently in Portugal ahead of the international break.

He was given the No 7 shirt when he arrived at United in 2003 as an 18-year-old. In his time at Sporting Lisbon he wore the No 28 and it has been widely reported that he asked for the same number when he moved to England but was given the number worn by some of United’s greatest players.

When he moved to Real Madrid 12 years ago he could not have his favoured number as it was taken by club legend Raul. When Raul moved to Schalke 04 in Germany the next summer, Ronaldo was granted his favourite shirt number again.

He also wore the No 7 at Juventus before his return to the Premier League this season. With Cavani in possession of the shirt, without dispensation the next available are No 12, No 15 or Dan James' old number 21 which Cavani wears for Uruguay.

Ronaldo signing already paying dividends off the pitch

By James Ducker

Goals and trophies are the currency by which Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United will be measured but the transfer has already underlined the extraordinary commercial appeal of the reunion.

Ronaldo’s Old Trafford homecoming has become the most talked about transfer on Twitter ever with more than two million tweets, 700,000 more mentions than Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the month attracted.

In the 24 hours after Friday’s news that United had agreed a £19.7m deal with Juventus to bring the five-time Ballon d’Or winner back to Old Trafford, the announcement became the most liked post by a sports team in social media history.

The announcement has attracted more than 12.9m likes on United’s Instagram account and 862,000 retweets, in addition to two million likes, on Twitter.

United - who are awaiting ratification of a visa for Ronaldo before formally announcing the deal after he completed a medical in Lisbon on Saturday - have attracted more than 3.7m followers across the club’s social media channels since the news broke.

Manchester United fans celebrate with a cardboard cut out of Cristiano Ronaldo - Reuters
Manchester United fans celebrate with a cardboard cut out of Cristiano Ronaldo - Reuters

Friday saw the highest ever number of daily social media interactions - which encompasses likes, shares, retweets and comments - on United channels with more than 27m interactions.

It was also the biggest day for United conversations on Twitter with more than 2.9m tweets, comfortably eclipsing the previous highest total of 1.6m mentions when Ronaldo’s returned to Old Trafford for the first time as a Real Madrid player in 2013, four years after his then world record £80m move to the Bernabeu.

Although the transfer has commanded worldwide attention and is expected to prove highly lucrative commercially, United insist that above all it is another statement of their intent and ambition after a summer in which they also signed Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

United moved quickly to re-sign Ronaldo after it became apparent he could join rivals Manchester City and the Glazers hope he has a similar impact on the pitch as Tom Brady at their NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady helped the Bucs to win their first Super Bowl since 2003 when he inspired them to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in February, 11 months after signing.

United last won the Premier League title in 2013 and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure to end that drought following Ronaldo, Sancho and Varane’s arrivals.

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