Antonio Valencia has requested to have his shirt number changed to #25 rather than the #7 he was bestowed with last season.
Seldom do you see a player hand back a shirt number but Valencia didn’t cope at all with the added pressures of being Manchester United’s #7.
Over the course of history, United have given the shirt to our most prolific winger with the likes of Best, Ronaldo and Beckham all previous owners it. He was rightly given it after being named both the Player and Players’ Player of the Season at United’s 2011/2012 awards following an outstanding season but instead of using the legacy of the #7 shirt to springboard him to dizzier heights, he spiraled downwards and had a terrible season.
Antonio Valencia will be wearing the no.25 shirt today after requesting to change his squad number. #mufc
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 11, 2013
Now that the #7 shirt is vacant once again, United have to choose the latest occupant of it and for me, Wilfried Zaha is the right choice.
There will be added pressure on Zaha if he was to be given the #7 shirt but from what I have seen from him, he thrives under pressure. Instead of being daunted by the prospect of playing bitter rivals Brighton in the Championship play-off semi final last year, his brilliant brace spearheaded Crystal Palace to the Premier League as did his performance in the final at Wembley.
And so far in his United career, he has been fantastic. Improving in every game, his tricky feet and direct approach have instantly made him a fans favourite. The occupant of the #7 shirt at United has always been the entertainer, the player that fans look to for a moment of magic to change the game and there is no reason why Zaha can’t be that person. He is certainly a better choice than Michael Owen was when he was given it.