Man Utd new boy Sancho works out on holiday
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When Manchester United signed Jadon Sancho, attentions quickly turned to the shirt number he’d sport at Old Trafford. Having originally had the No 7 reserved for the England international, many expected him to take it on. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declined his request to don the jersey – and that speaks volumes about Edinson Cavani.
This summer, Manchester United have finally landed their man.
They first tried to sign Sancho back in the summer transfer window of 2017, when Jose Mourinho was in charge, only to end up being gazumped by Borussia Dortmund’s promise of regular action.
Then, they attempted to prise him away in 2019. However, with no Champions League football to offer, they forked out for Daniel James instead.
A year ago, it was a similar story.
Everybody knew United wanted Sancho and the player himself was keen to move to Old Trafford. In the end, though, Dortmund’s demands of £108million saw the Red Devils look elsewhere.
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Instead of signing Sancho, they signed Cavani. And they gave him the No 7 shirt they’d previously reserved for the 21-year-old.
Now, this year, United have finally struck gold.
Sancho has already signed and been given the No 25 jersey, previously worn by Odion Ighalo. And, since then, it’s also emerged that Solskjaer declined the player’s request to have No 7 instead.
That’s because the Norwegian didn’t want to rock the boat with Cavani, who has finally ended the jinx of the shirt number that’s existed ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2009.
When Ronaldo left, it was given to Michael Owen.
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But the England international spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch, despite scoring some big goals for the Red Devils including a dramatic winner against Manchester City in the derby.
After Owen, came Antonio Valencia.
Yet while the Ecuador international warranted the number, he didn’t feel comfortable with it – reverting back to his favoured No 25 after just a year.
In 2014, United thought they were onto a winner when they signed Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid.
Things certainly started well enough, with the Argentina international scoring a memorable chip against Leicester.
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But Di Maria never settled in England and, after a year of struggling for consistency under Louis van Gaal, was allowed to leave for Paris Saint-Germain for a discounted fee.
United then signed Memphis Depay but he never settled, either, lasting just 18 months before being flogged to Lyon.
And the less said about Alexis Sanchez the better. Five goals, on wages of £400,000-a-week with No 7 on his back, means he’s not remembered fondly at Old Trafford.
Yet with Cavani, things have been different.
He netted 17 times across all competitions last team, a remarkable achievement when you consider he had to adjust to life in England after not playing for six months.
United were genuinely fearful Cavani would depart in March, with Boca Juniors showing interest at the time.
But they were able to keep hold of the Uruguay international and, now, Solskjaer is set to trust him to lead the line every week next season.
United are delighted with Cavani and the fact they didn’t strip him of the No 7, even for a marquee signing such as Sancho, speaks volumes about the impact he’s made.
Now, the duo will be team-mates.
And Solskjaer will be hoping the pair can be the ticket to Premier League title glory, a prize the club have had to live without ever since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
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