After over 12 months of speculation, negotiations, drama and more chaos than any other transfer saga in recent memory, Jadon Sancho is donning the red shirt of Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been searching for that dynamic threat on the right wing for years now, and he could hardly have snapped up a better man for the job. Sancho racked up 36 goals and 40 assists over his last two seasons with Borussia Dortmund, which is why United were prepared to shell out a cool £72.9m to sign him.
The only question left to answer is which shirt number Sancho will take. He spent the last three years wearing the number seven, but there’s no guarantee that he will get that number at Old Trafford as Edinson Cavani already has dibs on it.
United’s seven shirt is among the most famous numbers in the planet and is usually reserved for the team’s superstar. George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo are just five of many giants to wear the shirt, so it’s not hard to work out why it comes with so much pressure.
Sancho could still end up with seven, but that would require Cavani to agree to switch his own number. The Uruguayan may well agree, but that all depends on whether he can find another number that satisfies him. The number nine he wore with Paris Saint-Germain is taken by Anthony Martial.
Should seven remain off the table, Sancho could opt to pursue the number 17 shirt which he chose for England duty at Euro 2020. That seems to be his preferred alternative, but again, that shirt is already taken by Fred.
Would Fred care about losing his number? He specifically selected it because he used to wear it during his days as a youngster in Brazil, but he doesn’t seem particularly attached to it. He wore eight at Shakhtar Donetsk and 35 when he first broke through at Internacional.
In terms of vacant options, Sancho could choose to go with 12, which has been out of action since Chris Smalling’s 2019 departure, although there have been plenty of rumours suggesting Sancho could opt for 16.
Writing for The National, Andy Mitten claimed 16 had already been reserved for Sancho and would likely be his preferred alternative if the famous seven shirt cannot be lured away from Cavani.
Is that because it’s close to 17? Because the digits combine to make seven? It’s anyone’s guess, really.
If none of those appeal to Sancho, he’ll be forced to go quite high with his number.
24 and 25 are both available, but if Sancho wants a seven in his number, he’d have to settle for the 37, which has exclusively been worn by young fringe players. The chances of that happening appear slim.
Expect United to speak to Cavani about switching up his number, but if the veteran forward chooses to stick with seven, Sancho might have to get creative with his shirt choice.