Following Antonio Valencia‘s decision to relinquish the No. 7 shirt, claiming it had a negative effect on his performance, no one has stepped up to claim the shirt with the historic number.
Valencia’s decision left many in the forlorn hope that Cristiano Ronaldo would return home but any hope of that happening seemed to flutter away with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, a man whom Ronaldo sees a father figure but he got the improved contract he deserved, whilst United were left with Marouane Fellaini.
However Adnan Januzaj, the boy who can do anything, has left many reds hoping he may take the number and lead United to glory.
Such is the shirts mythical status thanks to the host of stars who have had it in the past – Robson, Beckham, Best, Cantona, Ronaldo et al – fans associate it with the United player who gets hearts racing with excitement, something Januzaj did with aplomb in his debut season.
The youngster’s emergence has quickly drew comparisons with Ronaldo who brought Old Trafford to life when he first arrived.
Perhaps the comparisons are a little unfair given that Ronaldo is a freak of nature and it will be difficult to see how anyone else can replicate his dogged determination to get right on top of the game.
However, it could be considered eerie how both players have done in their first seasons at Old Trafford.
In Ronaldo’s first season, the winger scored four goals and assisted four times. Januzaj scored four and assisted three.
At times, Ronaldo frustrated in his first year. The talent was obviously there but he often took took on too many people, without providing the end product thanks to a wrong decision. Januzaj also showed glimpses of naivety as you would expect.
Obviously in time, under the tutelage of Ferguson and Carlos Quieroz, he turned into a force of nature but Januzaj has already shown signs he can make it right to the very top. The Belgian has a better dribble success rate, his crossing is more accurate, he has a better pass accuracy and also has a better conversion rate than Ronaldo.
With Louis Van Gaal at the helm, a man who loves playing with fast wingers and has also given many youngsters a chance in the game, Januzaj could step up a level.
Under David Moyes, the forwards suffered under the lack of attacking training they received but under Van Gaal, a manager who believes in total football, that will change.
Many had believed Juan Mata would take up the shirt when he arrived but the Spaniard received the No. 8 and with no other viable candidate in the squad, Januzaj would be the best and most exciting choice to take the shirt.
Callow, home-grown and with bags of talent, what’s not to love?