Manchester United are still missing a No.7: So who will follow in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Di Maria and Memphis?

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Not since Cristiano Ronaldo played at Old Trafford has the number seven shirt seen such heady heights – and that was eight years ago.

Is it at all possible that Manchester United’s number seven shirt has become something of a poisoned chalice?

Growing up, any footballer that wore that Red Devils jersey was considered United’s best player, their talisman.

You had George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. Some of the finest footballers on the planet wore the number seven of Manchester United.

It is because of these legends that kids (and adults) everywhere fought to wear the number seven shirt for their local teams every Saturday and Sunday.

 
1996: FA Cup: Eric Cantona, Alex Ferguson and Bryan Kidd with the trophy after Man Utd's victory over Liverpool in the 1996 FA Cup Final
Eric Cantona made himself a legend at Old Trafford (Image: Getty)

But something changed. The bearers of the shirt became progressively worse.

The trend started with Michael Owen. The Liverpool legend stepped in following Ronaldo’s world record departure to Real Madrid.

 
Ronaldo was United’s last true number seven

Despite winning the 2010-11 Premier League, Owen’s highlight for many United fans will always be that last-minute goal against City.

 
 

Antonio Valencia was the next player to be awarded the shirt. It was the Ecuadorian’s reward for claiming the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Award after his superb 2011-12 season.

 
di Maria failed to find his feet at United (Image: Michael Regan)

A year later and Valencia handed the shirt back. The winger claimed he couldn’t handle the pressure that came with the number.

An entire season went by with the number vacant. You got the feeling that it was being saved for something special.

Which is why when Angel Di Maria signed for a club record fee in 2014, many thought he would be the next name on that great list.

 
Man United’s most recent number seven arrived with so much promise

But after a topsy-turvy season the Argentine left as quickly as he arrived.

Enter Memphis Depay. Eredivisie’s player of the year and a boy that had all confidence come cockiness of someone who could rescue the number seven shirt.

But like those recently before him, he stalled.

Not since 2009 has a United legend donned the number seven jersey – is there anyone who can end this baron spell?

We look at seven attacking options who have the potential to wear the shirt.

Ivan Perisic

 
Ivan Perisic looks increasingly likely to join Manchester United (Image: Getty Images AsiaPac)

The most boring name on this list, but equally the most likely to take the shirt. Should Ed Woodward and Mourinho succeed in signing the Croatian this summer the number seven shirt would surely be his.

At the age of 28 he’d have little time to establish himself as a Man United legend, but that’s nothing a Champions League final goal can’t fix.

Fast, strong and capable of creating chances out of nothing – he certainly has all the attributes.

Gareth Bale

 
Bale would definitely fit the mold, but a move would be unlikely (Image: REUTERS)

Like Perisic, Bale isn’t getting any younger. But unlike the Inter Milan winger, Bale’s name carries a whole lot more weight.

Free-kick taker, the biggest name on the field, a man capable of destroying teams with one move, the Welshman’s characteristics all point towards the number seven shirt.

A move, however, is unlikely.

Antoine Griezmann

 
United have missed out on Antoine Griezmann this summer (Image: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno)

Just because he’s signed a new deal with Atletico doesn’t mean a move to Old Trafford is off the cards.

United may hold off on their pursuit for the talented Frenchman until next summer and keep the number seven shirt free in the process.

Griezmann has cracked it in La Liga and on the international stage. Plus, he already wears the number seven shirt for La Liga giants.

Paul Pogba

 
Paul Pogba has everything going for him (Image: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The world’s most expensive footballer, arguably United’s most exciting and technically brilliant player, why couldn’t he wear the number seven shirt?

When you compare Pogba to players who have worn the shirt in the past, this move would make more sense than anyone else on this list.

We’re not saying anymore on the issue.

Marcus Rashford

 
Marcus Rashford could wear the number seven shirt for years (Image: Man Utd via Getty Images)

Regardless of his feelings towards 19, one more decent season and Rashford deserves to have a ‘big’ number.

Why shouldn’t he inherit number seven? It would be a reward worth waiting for. Pacy, attacking, exciting and incredibly young – all sounds very appetising.

If the striker were to wear the jersey for a decade he would more than make up for lost time.

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