Manchester United are expected to hand the club’s iconic number seven shirt to Jadon Sancho once his transfer from Borussia Dortmund, which is officially agreed subject to a routine medical, is complete. But that will mean Edinson Cavani will need a new number.
Sancho would have been given United’s number seven last summer had the club reached a deal with Dortmund at the first attempt. But United’s refused to meet a £108m valuation and Dortmund refused to compromise, leaving negotiations at a stalemate.
It meant that when Cavani signed a free agent in October, seven was available for him to take. The veteran Uruguayan had previously worn it for Palermo and Napoli earlier in his career, as well as for his country at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympics.
But Cavani, having agreed to extend his contract for another season until 2022, will have to vacate United’s number seven shirt now that it is going to Sancho instead.
The 34-year-old scored 17 goals in all competitions last season, improving as the campaign progressed and becoming a fan favourite in the process.
Plenty of United supporters would love to see Cavani don the number shirt this coming season. It was his number for seven years at Paris Saint-Germain and he scored 200 goals.
The issue with that, however, is that nine at United is occupied by Anthony Martial. The Frenchman had it taken off him once before in 2016, a move that seemed to rub him up the wrong way until it was eventually returned three years later. The club may be unlikely to strip him of his favoured shirt again, but Martial could yet be sold this summer if a suitable offer is made.
Aside from seven and nine, the other shirt that has been long associated with Cavani is 21. He has worn it for the majority of his international career with Uruguay, including at two World Cup and five Copa America tournaments since 2011.
The number 21 shirt at United currently belongs to Daniel James. But the Wales winger typically wears 20 at international level so were current number 20 Diogo Dalot to move on following his loan at AC Milan last season it could see James move and free up 21 for Cavani.
Other United shirt numbers that are available but hold little in the way of significance for Cavani are 12, 16, 22, 24 and 25. Numbers 14 and 15 could also yet become available if Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira respectively secure permanent moves away from Old Trafford.